California, Oregon among 49 states suing robocaller for 8 million illegal calls
Wed, May 24, 2023 4:55 PM
By Ria Roebuck Joseph, The Center Square
“Hi, this is Amy and I'm giving you a call from the Dealer Service Center. We recently noticed your car's extended warranty was going to expire and wanted to give you one final courtesy call before your warranty expires and your coverage is voided. This would make you financially responsible for all service repairs. Press one now if you wish to extend or reinstate your car's warranty. Once again, press one now or press two to be placed on the do not call list or call our 800 number at 833-304-1447 UST 456.”
This is just one of the many scripted calls allegedly originating with Avid Telecom now being sued by 49 attorneys general in a United States District Court in Arizona.
The defendants Michael D. Lansky and Stacey S. Reeves were in the business of providing interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, facilitating or initiating robocalls, and helping others make robocalls.
Robocalling or voice broadcasting, is the ability to simultaneously initiate mass quantities of calls that deliver prerecorded or artificial voiced messages like the one scripted for the “Dealer Service Center” in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act
“VoIP technology is particularly attractive to scammers that place illegal robocalls because it allows them to efficiently place millions or billions of calls as they troll for vulnerable consumers who will fall victim to their financial or identity theft scams,” the lawsuit said.
Avid Telecom is accused of facilitating the transmission of robocall campaigns in which the telemarketer misrepresented material aspects of goods or services; misrepresented the seller’s or telemarketer’s affiliation with corporations or government entities; made false or misleading statements to induce any person to pay for goods or services; failed to transmit .. ..the real telephone number and the name of the telemarketer to caller identification services used by call recipients; initiated .. outbound calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry; Initiated ... outbound telephone calls that delivered pre recorded messages.
Over 24.5 billion calls were sent or attempted to be transmitted to consumers between December 31, 2018 and January 31, 2023.
The suit stated “Since 2019, Defendants also sent and/or transmitted more than 8.4 million calls across Avid Telecom’s network that used spoofed Caller ID numbers which misrepresented the callers’ affiliations with federal law enforcement agencies, state law enforcement agencies and private sector entities.”
More than 80,989 calls containing unlawful content were routed by Avid Telecom to phone numbers with California area codes since 2019, and an estimated 557 million calls to California numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.
“In addition to being a daily annoyance, robocalls can and do cause real financial damage,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said. “I’m taking Avid Telecom to court for delivering not hundreds, or thousands, or millions of robocalls — but billions of robocalls. Our coalition alleges that Avid Telecom has violated federal and state laws, and we are confident that we will prevail.”
Lansky and Reeves were on notice, both through Tracebacks and complaints from their downstream providers, that Avid Telecom’s network was being used by telemarketers or sellers to send illegal robocalls, the lawsuit alleges.
These Robocalls were often customized to enable a high volume of calls to be placed in quick succession, “billing only for the duration of completed calls — typically in as little as 6-second increments — and ignoring clear indicia of illegal call traffic.” The result is that millions of pre-recorded telephone calls to residents in the Plaintiffs’ respective jurisdictions were transmitted and delivered, a violation in California under its Unfair Competition Law.
Avid Telecom is also accused of providing their customers with Direct Inward Dialing numbers (“DIDs”). These numbers appeared to the persons receiving the calls as the calling numbers or “Caller IDs” failing to disclose the identity of the seller of the goods or services truthfully to the call recipient violating both the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Truth in Caller ID Act.
“As the People’s Attorney, I’ve been laser focused on protecting consumers since taking office, and stopping unwanted robocalls is an important bipartisan and nationwide effort,” Bonta affirmed.
The lawsuit suggests that Avid Telecom not only facilitated illegal robocalls but provided their customers with expertise on how to run their illegal telemarketing schemes effectively and profitably, even providing rotation support for DID numbers and routing illegal Robocalls to consumers.
Avid Telecom was started by Michael D. Lansky on November 1, 2000, as an Arizona limited liability company. Stacey S. Reeves is the Vice President of Operations and Sales for Avid Telecom residing in Oviedo, Florida.
Attorney General Bonta joined the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.
The law suit is filed by the Kristin K. Mayes, Attorney General of Arizona as Lead Counsel for Plaintiffs.
“We are glad to be part of this lawsuit as this issue affects every one of us - particularly older Oregonians who are more likely to be preyed upon by scammers and predatory businesses that engage in robo-calling,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum stated.