The FCC in the United States has issued a robocall spammer with a $120 million fine for using a scheme called neighbour spoofing.
Neighbour spoofing hides the caller’s real number with one that uses your phone number’s area code as its first three digits, making it more likely that you will pick up.
Details of the case emerged a year ago, when the FCC said the spammer was in violation of the Truth in Caller ID Act.
The legislation prohibits callers from deliberately falsifying caller ID information to disguise their identity with the intent to “harm, defraud, or wrongfully obtain anything of value”.
The accused, Adrian Abramovich of Miami, allegedly made 96 million spoofed robocalls during a three-month period. The FCC’s fine was based on 80,000 spoofed calls that it verified.
Abramovich’s operation made the spoofed calls to trick consumers into answering and listening to his advertising messages.
Consumers who continued with the call were transferred to foreign call centres where operators attempted to sell vacation packages.
In his argument to the FCC, Abramovich said the fine should be significantly lower as he had no intention to cause harm. He also said that the amount was unconstitutional.
The FCC was unconvinced and went ahead with the full fine it considered in 2017.
“The forfeiture is warranted by the facts of this case. Abramovich was responsible for the most extensive caller ID spoofing schemes we have ever encountered, and he caused companies and individuals extensive harm,” said the FCC.