FCC hands down biggest fine ever for robocalls
The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has handed out a $120m fine to Miami man Adrian Abramovich after he was accused of making over 90m automated marketing calls.
The record-breaking fine, which equates to £88m, is the largest ever given out by the FCC.
Abramovich was accused of trying to sell holidays and timeshare properties through the unsolicited robocalls during a three month period in 2016.
Although he insisted had not intended to "defraud or cause harm" FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement that the defence "isn't very convincing".
He continued that Abramovich doesn't dispute that he was responsible for placing the robocalls without people’s consent.
The FCC claims Abramovich’s set up involved calling people around the country to offer them travel deals that appeared to be from well-known brands.
They made their caller ID appear as if it was from a local number, a practice called ‘neighbour spoofing’, in violation of US law.
Recipients would then be transferred to a human operator in an overseas call centre, who would try to sell the consumer a holiday or timeshare package.
A medical paging company also claimed that the calls blocked its system, interfering with vital hospital and doctor communications.
The FCC originally issued the fine in 2017 after receiving a complaint but Abramovich had appealed against the decision and asked to have the fine reduced.
According to Newsweek Abramovich said he was “not the kingpin that is alleged”.
Pai said it was the "largest illegal robocalling scheme" the FCC had investigated and therefore the fine was "appropriate".
“Friendly visitors don’t wear disguises to mask who they are,” said Pai.
"I haven't met a single American who likes getting these kinds of robocalls.
"Our decision sends a loud and clear message: this FCC is an active cop on the beat and will throw the book at anyone who violates our spoofing and robocall rules."