A resident of Miami, Florida who has been accused of making 96 million telephone calls which touted fake travel deals is facing a proposed fine of $120 million from federal regulators. According to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, Adrian Abramovich’s robocall spoofing was the worst the regulator had ever encountered.
In his robocall spoofing effort, Abramovich employed tricks to make consumers answer and listen to the advertising messages he had. According to the FCC, on the surface the calls appeared to be coming from local numbers though when answered consumers were asked to press a number in order to listen to vacation deals.
Foreign call centers
If the consumers went ahead to press the number they would be put in touch with call centers which were not associated with the firms mentioned in the messages such as Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Marriott International, TripAdvisor or Expedia. Instead consumers would be transferred to call centers located abroad and where live call center operators would attempt to sell them vacation packages which sometimes involved timeshares.
One of the companies whose name was used to lure consumers into listening to the travel deals, TripAdvisor, worked hand in hand with the Federal Communications Commission in the investigations following complaints from its customers.
“The calls ultimately connected Americans to call centers in Mexico that usually attempted to fleece innocent consumers out of their hard-earned money by promising too-good-to-be-true vacation deals,” said TripAdvisor’s senior vice president, Adam Medros, in a statement.
Caller identity info falsification
According to the FCC, the robocalls were made in violation of law which prohibits the deliberate falsification of caller identity information. The 96 million telephone calls that Abramovich made were made in the course of 90 days and this roughly translated to an average of about one million such calls in a single day. According to the Federal Communications Commission, Abramovich conducted business using two corporation names. In the online records from the state of Florida, the corporations with those names are now listed as dissolved.
The fine of $120 million was based on the 80,000 robocalls that the FCC was able to verify meaning the penalty could have been much higher had more calls been verified. Before the U.S. Federal Communications Commission can decide whether or not to levy the penalty, Abramovich will be given a chance to make his case against the fine. The proposed fine must also be approved by a court.