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FTC Ramps Up Fight to Close the Door on Illegal Robocalls ...


David H. Lipman

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FTC Ramps Up Fight to Close the Door on Illegal Robocalls Originating from Overseas Scammers and Imposters

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As the menace of unwanted illegal robocalls continues, U.S. consumers are bombarded by millions of these calls each month, both to their landlines and cell phones. Data show that a significant proportion, if not the majority, of illegal robocalls originate from overseas.

To stop these illegal overseas calls, the Federal Trade Commission has implemented Project Point of No Entry (PoNE), targeting “point of entry” or “gateway” Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers and warning they must work to keep illegal robocalls out of the country.

“Project Point of No Entry is yet another way the FTC is sending VoIP service providers the clear message that the Commission will not stand by as illegal robocalls blast American phones,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We will use all of our tools to stop companies that knowingly permit illegal calls to flood into the country.”

Project Point of No Entry

Through Project PoNE, the FTC is disrupting foreign-based scammers and imposters responsible for blasting U.S. consumers with annoying and unwanted calls. Through Project PoNE, the Commission:
1) identifies point of entry VoIP service providers that are routing or transmitting illegal call traffic,
2) demands they stop doing so and warns their conduct may violate the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and then
3) monitors them to pursue recalcitrant providers, including by opening law enforcement investigations and filing lawsuits when appropriate.

The FTC can seek civil penalties and court injunctions to stop TSR violations. It can also seek money to refund to consumers who were defrauded via illegal telemarketing calls. The FTC coordinates directly with the agency’s federal and state partners, which support the program and pursue their own actions to fight illegal telemarketing robocalls.

Quantifiable Results

Results to date have shown that Project PoNE is having a significant impact in the fight to stop illegal calls.

Through the FTC’s enforcement efforts and its collaboration with partners, such as the Industry Traceback Group (ITG), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and state attorneys general, Project PoNE has uncovered the activity of 24 target point of entry service providers responsible for routing and transmitting illegal robocalls between 2021 and 2023, in connection with approximately 307 telemarketing campaigns, including government and business imposters, COVID-19 relief payment scams, and student loan debt relief and forgiveness schemes, among others. According to ITG, a single campaign often represents hundreds of thousands or millions of calls.

The FTC demanded that each of the target providers stop allowing illegal robocalls into the United States, warning of potential law enforcement action for illegal conduct. ITG traceback data show that after being contacted by Project PoNE staff, 22 of the 24 targets significantly curbed or altogether stopped the flow of illegal robocalls entering the country over their networks.

Designated by the FCC as the official traceback consortium, ITG uses its traceback process to seek out the source of suspicious traffic and shares information with law enforcement when appropriate. Each traceback represents a snapshot of any given campaign.

Before being contacted by the FTC, the targets had a combined total of 1,043 tracebacks. After being contacted and warned about their possibly illegal conduct, that number dropped to 196, illustrating Project PoNE’s effectiveness at stopping illegal robocalls before they could enter the country. Of the 196, 147 are linked to two uncooperative providers, one of which is subject to an FCC law enforcement action.

The FTC is making available to the public recordings of the robocalls that the targets have allowed into the country at Project Point of No Entry Letters . Making these recordings available will help consumers identify and avoid the various scams delivered by illegal robocalls. The FTC’s East Central Region is spearheading Project PoNE.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Follow Up:

For those who have not visited the FTC links in the above, I am providing the URL that provides a list of Telecommunication Companies that were targeted in what appears to be an effective curtailment of RoboCalls  by the US FTC deemed Operation Point of No Entry (aka; PoNE).

 Each company representative URL listed below has their Warning Letter PDF which itemizes sample events.  Additionally sample RoboCalls in WAV format are provided that were associated with each Telecommunication Company.

 

Project Point of No Entry Letters

 

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Project Point of No Entry Letters

Through Project PoNE, the FTC is disrupting foreign-based scammers and imposters responsible for blasting U.S. consumers with annoying and unwanted calls. Through Project PoNE, the Commission: 1) identifies point of entry VoIP service providers that are routing or transmitting illegal call traffic, 2) demands they stop doing so and warns their conduct may violate the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and then 3) monitors them to pursue recalcitrant providers, including by opening law enforcement investigations and filing lawsuits when appropriate.  The FTC has made available to the public recordings of the robocalls in each letter listed below.

Warning Letter to Callvox LLC

Warning Letter to Global Net Holdings, Inc.

Warning Letter to Inteliquent, Inc.

Warning Letter to RSCom Ltd.

Warning Letter to Whisl Telecom, LLC

Cease and Desist Letter to AKA Management Inc.

Cease and Desist Letter to Family Communication Inc.

Cease and Desist Letter to Great Choice Telecom LLC

Cease and Desist Letter to iBasis, Inc.

Cease and Desist Letter to Inbound Inc.

Cease and Desist Letter to Jumpsolinc

Cease and Desist Letter to Matrix Telecom, LLC

Cease and Desist Letter to One Eye LLC

Cease and Desist Letter to Telecommunications Firm LLC

Cease and Desist Letter to Business Telecommunications Services, Inc.

Cease and Desist Letter to Cherry Voice Inc.

Cease and Desist Letter to DID Central, LLC

Cease and Desist Letter to Every1 Telecom

Cease and Desist Letter to HFA Services LLC, also d/b/a Call48

Cease and Desist Letter to IDT Telecom, Inc.

Cease and Desist Letter to Peerless Network, Inc.

Cease and Desist Letter to Range, Inc., also d/b/a Range Telecom

Cease and Desist Letter to Telcast Network LLC

Cease and Desist Letter to Telcentris, Inc., also d/b/a Voxox

 

Edited by David H. Lipman
Edited for content, clarity, spelling and/or grammar
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Yes. 

I did not read every one of the action letters, but I read many and the detail showed they had the evidence that each had been facilitating the RoboCalls. 

In your extract, Whistl Telecom, LLC., the TeleCom was facilitating Amazon impersonation scams as well as impersonating the Social Security Administration.  Not only do they have the logs but the actual RoboCalls recorded in WAV files.

I can see (or should I write not hear) the efficacy of the FTC's Project PoNE and it subsequent reduction in RoboCall volume. 

I figured by posting the list directly it can be captured by Uncle Google and give these miscreant TeleComs more exposure to victims affected by their actions (or lack thereof).

The more people know, the more the TeleComs can  be shamed.

Edited by David H. Lipman
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2 minutes ago, David H. Lipman said:

Yes.

(And I like to say) and MORE YES!

 

2 minutes ago, David H. Lipman said:

the actual RoboCalls recorded in WAV files.

I did see that, but I didn't listen because I'm having a good day.

 

3 minutes ago, David H. Lipman said:

posting the list directly it can be captured by Uncle Google  😆  and give these miscreant TeleComs more exposure

(Bold formatting and emoji insertion my own!) A good idea!

I thought about all the people who called in to report these calls, IN THE MILLIONS, and then felt like getting up on a soapbox to encourage everyone who has been affected, DO SOMETHING! Each of those individuals reported it, and that in itself is miraculous. I've done my fair share of reporting to sites, but with the nagging thought, "what difference is this going to make?" This is the difference. ☺️

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

ADDENDUM:

 

FTC Sues to Stop VoIP Service Provider That Assisted and Facilitated Telemarketers in Sending Hundreds of Millions of Illegal Robocalls to Consumers Nationwide

 

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The Federal Trade Commission sued to stop a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider, XCast Labs, Inc., that continued to funnel hundreds of millions of illegal robocalls through its network, even after receiving multiple warnings. The Department of Justice filed the complaint in the Central District of California on the FTC’s behalf.

“XCast Labs played a key role in helping telemarketers flood homes with unlawful robocalls, including robocalls impersonating the Social Security Administration,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “VoIP providers like XCast Labs that bury their heads in the sand when their customers use their services to break the law can expect to hear from the FTC.”      

XCast Labs, headquartered in Los Angeles, California, is a nationwide provider of VoIP technology, providing services that allow its customers to send and receive phone calls, including robocalls (calls that play a prerecorded message), over the Internet. Telemarketers who blast illegal robocalls typically use VoIP service providers like XCast Labs to transmit their calls.

According to the complaint, in January 2020, the FTC sent letters to a number of VoIP providers, including XCast Labs, warning them that assisting and facilitating illegal telemarketing or robocalling was against the law. The complaint also alleges that XCast Labs received dozens of “traceback” inquiries from US Telecom’s Industry Traceback Group regarding suspected illegal calls that originated on XCast Labs’ network, as well as inquiries from law enforcement agencies about transmission of suspected illegal traffic on the XCast Labs network. Even after receiving these direct warnings, the FTC alleges that XCast Labs transmitted illegal robocalls to consumers.

In addition, the FTC discovered that many of these suspect robocalls were part of organized campaigns designed to generate telemarketing leads by, for example, impersonating federal officials from the Social Security Administration. Lead generators sell the information they gather to telemarketers, who then use consumers’ information to pester them with even more unwanted, illegal calls.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to refer the complaint to the Department of Justice for filing was 4-0, and was taken before Commissioner Christine S. Wilson left the FTC. The DOJ filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Thomas Biesty and Frances Kern of the Bureau of Consumer Protection were the primary FTC staff on this matter.

NOTE: The Commission refers a complaint for civil penalties to the DOJ for filing when it has “reason to believe” that the named defendants are violating or are about to violate the law and that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.

 

Reference:

https://www.ftc.gov/legal-library/browse/cases-proceedings/xcast-labs-inc-ftc-v

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Edited by David H. Lipman
Edited for content, clarity, spelling and/or grammar
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