The Federal Communications Commission today fined robocalling businessman Adrian Abramovich $120 million for “malicious spoofing” in an effort to sell timeshares and other travel services.
The fine is the largest ever issued by the FCC.
Spoofing is displaying a fake caller ID number to a person receiving the call that does not reflect the actual number of the caller.
The Truth in Caller ID Act prohibits callers from deliberately falsifying caller ID information with the intent to harm or defraud consumers or unlawfully obtain something of value.
To increase the likelihood that consumers would answer his calls, Abramovich’s operation made calls that appeared to be from a local number, a practice known as “neighborhood spoofing.”
When a person answered, the recorded messages suggested the calls were coming from companies such as Marriott, Expedia, Hilton and TripAdvisor.
But when a consumer responded to the message, they were transferred to foreign call centers where live operators tried to sell vacation packages at destinations unrelated to the named travel or hospitality companies.