May 10 (UPI) — The Federal Communications Commission fined a Florida man a record $120 million Thursday for a robocalling operation aimed at selling travel packages and timeshares, the agency said.
The FCC said Adrian Abramovich of Miami made almost 100 million robocalls over a three-month period in what the agency called a “malicious spoofing” operation.
The FCC said Abramovich violated the Truth in Caller ID Act, which prohibits callers from deliberately falsifying caller ID information with the intent to harm or defraud customers.
“Tough enforcement is a key part of the FCC’s robust strategy for combating illegal robocalls, and this Forfeiture Order represents a big step forward in our enforcement efforts,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Thursday.
“This is the largest illegal robocalling scheme that the FCC has investigated to date, and we are appropriately imposing a $120 million forfeiture in response.”
Investigators said Abramovich used the robocalls to “trick” consumers into answering and listening to his advertisements. They said he used a practice known as “neighbor spoofing” to make the calls appear local — increasing the likelihood that people would answer the calls.
The calls purported to be from well-known travel or hospitality companies like Marriott, Expedia, Hilton, and TripAdvisor, the FCC said. After answering the calls, people were redirected to foreign call centers that attempted to sell timeshares and vacation packages.
The FCC said it received numerous complaints from residents and travel businesses about the calls. Spōk, a medical paging company, also complained after its network was disrupted by the calls.
Abramovich testified in Congress last month under subpoena. During the hearing, he described the robocalls as “very easy,” noting that it’s possible to make as many as 10,000 calls a day.