Today the Federal Communications Commission unanimously approved an Enforcement Bureau forfeiture order imposing $120 million in penalties against Mr. Adrian Abromovich for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Truth in Caller ID Act.
"The most disruptive robocaller and spoofer we've encountered to date"
Described by the Enforcement Bureau as “the most disruptive robocaller and spoofer we’ve encountered to date,” Mr. Abromovich is believed to be responsible for placing close to 100 million illegal spoofed robocalls to unknowing consumers during just the last three months of 2016. To scam consumers, Mr. Abromovich would falsify each robocall to match the area code of the recipients’ own numbers (a practice known as “neighbor spoofing”) pretending to be a representative of various travel companies like Trip Advisor and Marriott. He would thereafter funnel those individuals he reached into the hands of timeshare rental sales agents.
In testimony before the U.S. Senate last month (which Mr. Abromovich was required to attend via subpoena), he admitted to being in the business of “lead generation” and to using the names of other businesses in the caller ID so that consumers would pick up the phone. Yet Mr. Abromovich always maintained that he was providing a valuable service to consumers and that a civil penalty of $120 million was overbearing because of his travel company clients’ and carriers’ “shared culpability” in his robocalling efforts.
The Enforcement Bureau, however, rejected Mr. Abromovich’s arguments for lowering the penalty against him, describing his position as “unimpressive” and as evidence that he did not appreciate how much his robocalls “enraged consumers and harmed established companies like Trip Advisor, Marriott, Hilton, and Expedia, and disrupted a critical emergency medical paging network, putting American lives at risk.” The Bureau accordingly chose to maintain the $120 million penalty, and FCC Commissioners were clearly in favor of this decision.
We have previously covered the FCC’s enforcement power over those who violate the TCPA, and while the Commission typically goes after high-profile and serial violators, they can elect to go over smaller businesses as well. But just because the Enforcement Bureau can hurt your company does not mean it cannot possibly help it as well. If your business, is the victim of spoofing, the Bureau may be an important ally in helping to resolve the issue quickly so that your brand’s image is not drastically harmed.
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