Attorney General Tong Sues Avid Telecom Over Illegal Robocalls(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong today sued Michael D. Lansky, LLC, which does business under the name Avid Telecom, its owner Michael Lansky, and its vice president Stacey S. Reeves, for allegedly initiating and facilitating billions of illegal robocalls to millions of people and violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and other federal and state telemarketing and consumer laws. Avid Telecom sent or transmitted more than 7.5 billion calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. More than 87.6 million of those calls were to numbers in Connecticut alone.
“Avid Telecom and its owners transmitted billions of illegal robocalls and enabled criminal spammers to prey on American families. In coordination with nearly every attorney general nationwide, we are suing today to shut down these fraud enablers and hold them accountable for the massive harm they have caused,” said Attorney General Tong.
“Not only are constant robocalls annoying, they are used to carry out scams and fraud against unsuspecting consumers,” said Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Bryan T. Cafferelli. “If you answer a call from an unknown number, be wary. If the caller or pre-recorded message claims to be from a government agency such as the IRS or Social Security Administration, it is likely a scam. Typically, these agencies don’t make phone calls to individuals. Hang up immediately if they ask you for personal information, or to make a payment by gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency.”
Avid Telecom is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider that sells data, phone numbers, dialing software, and/or expertise to help its customers make mass robocalls. It also serves as an intermediate provider and allegedly facilitated or helped route illegal robocalls across the country. Between December 2018 and January 2023, Avid sent or attempted to transmit more than 24.5 billion calls. More than 90 percent of those calls lasted less than just 15 seconds, which indicates they were likely robocalls. Further, Avid helped make hundreds of millions of calls using spoofed or invalid caller ID numbers, including more than 8.4 million calls that appeared to be coming from government and law enforcement agencies, as well as private companies.
Avid Telecom allegedly sent or transmitted scam calls about Social Security Administration scams, Medicare scams, auto warranty scams, Amazon scams, DirecTV scams, credit card interest rate reduction scams, and employment scams. Examples of some of these scam calls are available to listen to here and here.
The USTelecom-led Industry Traceback Group, which notifies providers about known and suspected illegal robocalls sent across their networks, sent at least 329 notifications to Avid Telecom that it was transmitting these calls, but Avid Telecom continued to do so.
Today’s legal action arises from the nationwide Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force of 51 bipartisan attorneys general. Connecticut is among 16 states on the Executive Committee leading this task force. The task force is investigating and taking legal action against those responsible for routing significant volumes of illegal robocall traffic into and across the United States.
In August 2022, the Task Force issued civil investigative demands to 20 gateway providers and entities responsible for a majority of foreign robocall traffic into the country, including Lansky LLC and Avid Telecom. When Lansky and Avid refused to respond, the Task Force filed an enforcement action to compel the company to cooperate with the investigation.
Other investigations by the Task Force remain active and ongoing.
Attorney General Tong offers the following tips to avoid scams and unwanted calls:
∙ Be wary of callers who specifically ask you to pay by gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency. For example, the Internal Revenue Service does not accept iTunes gift cards.
∙ Look out for prerecorded calls from imposters posing as government agencies. Typically, the Social Security Administration does not make phone calls to individuals.
∙ If you suspect fraudulent activity, immediately hang up and do not provide any personal information.
Attorney General Tong is joined in filing today’s complaint by the Attorneys General of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, D.C., Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General also provided investigative assistance in this matter.
A copy of the complaint is available here.
Assistant Attorney General Kim McGee, under the supervision of Associate Attorney General Michael Wertheimer, Chief of the Consumer Protection Section assisted the Attorney General in this matter.
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