In what is described as the first enforcement action of its kind, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) has filed for restraining orders to prevent five companies and three individuals from carrying millions of fraudulent robocalls. Most of the scam calls originate in India, and many involve the impersonation of government authorities or businesses that demand payment from elderly and vulnerable Americans. The accused operate voice over internet protocol (VoIP) carriers that are alleged to be acting as international gateways so fraudulent traffic originating overseas can be connected to US consumers.
The restraining orders were sought in two separate cases. In the first case, the DoJ’s targets are Nicholas and Natasha Palumbo of Scottsdale, Arizona, and two businesses they own and operate, which trade as TollFreeDeals.com and SipRetail.com. The defendants in the other case are Jon Kahen of Great Neck, New York, and his companies Global Voicecom Inc., Global Telecommunication Services Inc. and KAT Telecom Inc., which is also known as IP Dish.
The Palumbos are accused of carrying 720mn calls during a sample 23-day period, with over 425mn of those calls lasting less than one second and many using spoofed caller ID numbers. This would suggest that the fraudsters were seeking to make money from wangiri as well as by threatening victims.
A press announcement from the DoJ stated “numerous foreign-based criminal organizations” are alleged to have used the services of these carriers. The defendants are said to have “ignored repeated red flags and warnings about the fraudulent and unlawful nature of the calls they were carrying”. Recipients of the calls were told they would be subject to…
…catastrophic government actions, including termination of social security benefits, imminent arrest for alleged tax fraud and deportation for supposed failure to fill out immigration forms correctly.
You will find the full text of the DoJ announcement here.