The FCC has proposed a $120 million fine – the largest ever against an individual – against a Miami resident charged with making almost 97 million travel-related robocalls in 2016.
Using a tactic known as "neighbor spoofing” that made his calls appear to be from the local area code, he disturbed people’s dinners (I think he called me a few million times!) offering deals from companies including TripAdvisor, Expedia, Marriott and Hilton Worldwide.
The FCC yesterday proposed the fine against Adrian Abramovich of Miami for violating the Truth in Caller ID Act, “which prohibits callers from deliberately falsifying caller ID information to disguise their identity with the intent to harm or defraud consumers.”
“Consumers reported receiving calls that appeared to come from local numbers but, if they answered, they heard an automated message prompting them to ‘Press 1’ to hear about ‘exclusive’ vacation deals from well-known travel and hospitality companies such as Marriott, Expedia, Hilton and TripAdvisor,” the FCC said in a statement. “Consumers who did press the button were then transferred to foreign call centers where live operators attempted to sell vacation packages, often involving timeshares. The call centers were not affiliated with the well-known travel and hospitality companies mentioned in the recorded message.”
The FCC said it was responding to complaints from consumers as well as from TripAdvisor, which had received complaints from robocallees.
The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 prohibits “spoofing with the intent to cause harm, defraud, or wrongfully obtain anything of value,” the FCC noted. “Consumers rely on caller ID information to make decisions about what calls to accept, ignore, or block. Accurate caller ID information is a vital tool that consumers use to protect their privacy, avoid fraud, and ensure peace of mind.”
The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau also issued Abramovich a citation for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s robocall limits and the federal wire fraud statute.