Justice Department Obtains Injunctions against Telecom Carriers for Transmission of Robocalls
Mar 30, 2020 • National Law Review
The Department of Justice recently announced that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York has entered orders in two separate civil actions, barring eight individuals and entities from allegedly continuing to facilitate the transmission of large volumes of fraudulent robocalls to consumers in the United States.
In one of the matters, United States v. Nicholas Palumbo, et al., the District Court entered a preliminary injunction that bars two individuals and two entities from operating as intermediate voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) carriers during the pendency of the civil action. In the other matter, United States v. John Kahen, et al., the District Court entered consent decrees that permanently bar an individual and three entities from operating as intermediate VoIP carriers conveying any telephone calls into the U.S. telephone system.
“These massive robocall fraud schemes target telephones of residents across our country, many of whom are elderly or are otherwise potentially vulnerable to such schemes,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “The department is committed to stopping this unlawful conduct and pursuing those who knowingly facilitate these schemes for their own financial gain.”
“This office will take all appropriate measures to stop fraudulent robocalling schemes responsible for causing catastrophic losses to victims, including seeking to permanently shut down the U.S.-based enablers of such schemes,” said United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue for the Eastern District of New York. “Protecting elderly and vulnerable individuals from being conned by foreign call center scammers remains a priority of this office and the Department of Justice.”
The complaints alleged that the defendants in both cases operated as VoIP carriers, receiving internet-based calls from other entities, often located abroad, and transmitting those calls first to other carriers within the United States and, ultimately, to the phones of individuals.
Numerous foreign-based call centers are alleged to have used the defendants’ VoIP carrier services to pass fraudulent government- and business-imposter robocalls to victims in the United States.
The defendants also allegedly sold U.S. phone numbers to foreign entities, which were used as victim call-back numbers as part of massive robocalling fraud schemes.
As also alleged in the complaints, the defendants were warned numerous times that they were carrying fraudulent robocalls, including calls impersonating government agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, the IRS, and legitimate businesses, such as Microsoft. The complaints allege that the defendants continued to carry those calls and facilitate fraud schemes targeting individuals in the United States.