Do not call: 48 US states sue telecom company over billions of illegal robocallstext_fields
San Francisco: At least 48 US states have sued a telecommunications company called Avid Telecom for allegedly routing 7.5 billion illegal and spoofed robocalls to millions of residents on the national 'Do Not Call Registry'.
The 141-page lawsuit was filed in US District Court for the District of Arizona against Avid Telecom, its CEO Michael Lansky and VP of Operations and Sales Stacey Reeves.
It seeks a jury trial, a permanent injunction to prevent additional illegal robocalls, and financial penalties including "restitution or other compensation on behalf of residents" for illegal calls.
The legal action arises from the nationwide, bipartisan Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force of 51 attorneys general and the District of Columbia. It was formed last year to investigate and take legal action against telecommunications companies routing volumes of robocall traffic.
According to Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, between December 2018 and January 2023, nearly 196,658,000 of those calls were made to Arizona phone numbers.
“Every day, countless Arizona consumers are harassed and annoyed by a relentless barrage of unwanted robocalls — and in some instances these illegal calls threaten consumers with lawsuits and arrest,” Mayes said in a statement. “More disturbingly, many of these calls are scams designed to pressure frightened consumers, often senior citizens, into handing over their hard-earned money. Such a blatant disregard for consumer protection laws will not be tolerated and violators of these laws will be held accountable," Mayes added.
In the more than 7.5 billion calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, Avid Telecom used spoofed or invalid caller ID numbers, including more than 8.4 million calls that appeared to be coming from government and law enforcement agencies, as well as private companies.
The company also allegedly sent or transmitted scam calls about the Social Security Administration, Medicare, Amazon and DirecTV, as well as auto warranties, employment and credit card interest rate reductions.
“Americans are sick and tired of their phones ringing off the hook with fraudulent robocalls,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “Seniors and vulnerable consumers have been scammed out of millions because of these illegal robocalls.”
Avid Telecom is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider that sells data, phone numbers, dialling software, and/or expertise to help its customers make mass robocalls.
It also serves as an intermediate provider and allegedly facilitated or helped route illegal robocalls across the country.
Between December 2018 and January 2023, Avid sent or attempted to transmit more than 24.5 billion calls.
"More than 90 per cent of those calls lasted less than just 15 seconds, which indicates they were likely robocalls," according to Mayes office.
Further, Avid helped make hundreds of millions of calls using spoofed or invalid caller ID numbers, including more than 8.4 million calls that appeared to be coming from government and law enforcement agencies, as well as private companies.
Robocalls have also been an issue during elections in recent years. During the 2020 election, voters across the U.S. received anonymous robocalls in the weeks leading up to Election Day telling them to “stay safe and stay home.”
Two conservative hoaxers were convicted of fraud for making over 85,000 robocalls to Black voters in five states.
The calls falsely stated giving information in mail-in ballots could lead to arrest, debt collection or forced vaccination. Their sentence included spending 500 hours registering voters in low-income neighborhoods of Washington, D.C.