back to article FTC shuts down five US robocall operations

The Federal Trade Commission has successfully shut down five US robocall operations in Arizona and Florida that bilked hundreds of thousands of dollars from people desperate to cut down on their credit card repayments. The operators, Treasure Your Success, Ambrosia Web Design, A+ Financial Center, The Green Savers, and Key One …

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Anonymous Coward

What's really dumb about some of these jackasses..

What's really dumb about some of these jackasses is that they weren't even spoofing valid numbers.

I'd calls on my cellphone (which is on the DNC and was for the whole time I've had this number minus the time to get home after I first got it), and the number would be of the form:

1-212-555-12121

Now, for those of you not familiar with the structure of US phone numbers, the final block of numbers should have 4, not 5, values in it.

So whenever I saw that, I knew it was a spoofed number.

(and also, for you Brits who may not know this: in the US, there isn't a special block of numbers for a cell phone - indeed, I can have a land line #, and BY LAW if I get a cell phone I can move that number to the cell (assuming I drop the land line) That's one of the reasons the UK style "calling a cell costs the caller" system won't work here - a given number could have been a landline yesterday, today it could be a cell, and it could be back to being a land line in a couple of weeks).

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Re: What's really dumb about some of these jackasses..

I'd mark you informative if I could - didn't know that.

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Megaphone

Re: What's really dumb about some of these jackasses..

For those in the UK, of a certain age...

"Get me Whitehall 1212!"

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About fucking time.

We were getting between 1 and 6 calls from "Rachel" per day, every day, for nearly five years. You'd think the fucking idiots in charge would notice that our number wasn't likely to bite on their scam.

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Re: About fucking time.

You beat me to it mate, almost identical experience here, gummint agencies just take too long to shut these fuckers down in the USA.

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Good Job FTC!

I agree, about damn time. Now if there could be criminal charges brought, perhaps this would make dent. I think FTC should have a criminal prosecution department of its own, rather than rely on Dept of Justice (who are fucking lazy and incompetent).

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Re: Good Job FTC!

It's amazing that the FTC doesn't have an armed enforcement department. The Social Security Administration apparently does as they put out a bid request for 174,000 rounds of .357 mag ammunition. Even the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, the weather guys) has a police force. We don't need another law enforcement agency, we need many fewer.

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Re: About fucking time.

Wonder if that's what those "800 Service" calls were for the last month. Thankfully, I have Caller ID and tend to screen all calls from firms and people i"m not expecting (through the answering machine). Tends to scrub out most of the robocallers who are smart enough not to plaster answering machines. That just leaves the collection agency calls (the last owner of my current number was apparently in credit trouble).

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Re: About fucking time.

Today's call is completely different. If was from "Jennifer" instead.

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Gimp

Re: About fucking time.

Actually I have had my NASTY global fights with spammers - taking the matter to their door steps, into their offices and assorted acts of genuine ill will.

I fucking HATE telemarketers, I fucking HATE spammers, I fucking HATE robocalls and I hate stupid fucking people.

I hate it when I am half asleep in dream land, laying back in the bath at say 7pm at night, after getting up and being busy and travelling all day from say 4am...

And the phone rings... and I have to get up out of the bath, and race to the phone because it might be a really important call.... and it's some fuck from A.C. Neilsen, asking me to do a customer satisfaction survey, for the bank that I told to fuck off that day for ripping me of with fees or something....

And I had already told the arseholes at A.C. Neilsen to take my number off their list and never call me again....

In regards to telemarketers, spammers and robocallers, would love to have the deciding vote on a jury, for the person who walked into their offices and shot them all in the face at point blank range.

I'd be saying, "Not guilty." - because I don't have a problem with the elimination of shit.

In fact I am all for public floggings with vicious instruments of torture etc.. Burn them alive at the stake etc.

Fuck them.

One of the benefits of NO LONGER having a land line in Australia and using a mobile is that you can set the phones to dump the calls from unlisted numbers..... and all the VIOP users - the telemarketers - they are out of luck - because the arseholes don't call people when it really costs them money to do so by using a real land line, with a real number.

I hope these robo caller bastards, all get to share cells with Bubba and his good old boys.

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Re: I fucking HATE telemarketers, ...spammers, ...robocalls and ...stupid fucking people.

OK, please calm down. I too, feel your pain, but getting worked up over it will lead to a heart attack; allowing those bastards a win.

Other posters are on point about the FTC not having their own criminal law enforcement agency, to many of the douchebags, a fine is just the cost of doing business. I feel that a few years at the graybar motel might mend their ways.

BTW, as I was typing this I got a call from a robocaller conducting a ""survey"", I just hung up on them. I could do without those ""surveys"" that want to know who I am going to vote for, it is none of their fucking business.

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Re: just take too long

and you'd think with the gummint needing more and more money, this would be a fine source of additional revenue when you charge them under RICO...

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Mushroom

Re: I fucking HATE telemarketers, ...spammers, ...robocalls and ...stupid fucking people.

Your right - but telephone marketers / survey takers etc., in ANY form are a different kettle of fish.

See if I go and buy a news paper / magazine / read online articles / watch TV etc... it's a given fact or understanding that there is a trade off for my wanting to see a program by feeding me advertising, in the hope of making sales, as a way to generate revenue.

If my tolerance for bullshit is at it's typical low point, I don't buy or read the news papers / magazines / watch TV, and I read most online articles with add blocking etc., because I am quite happy on my bicycle and don't want or need 500 adds a day telling me I am a failure for not buying their rolling bucket of over priced shit.

BUT ringing me, it's essentially trespass, - past the front gate, past the front door, and directly into MY home, in MY time and space, usually interfering with my attention to my activities, of doing things I like, with people I like.

It's also completely different to someone dialing a wrong number.

It's a calculated act of intrusion, a callous lack of respect of the dignity and rights of people, and it's not one call every few months, some people get dozens of calls a day - be it either from the same company or a whole range of companies / people / organisations.

I bought my phone and I paid for the connection, so that I could communicate through the magic of electricity, with the people and business's that I want to be contacting, when and where I want to be contacting them.

I never bought and paid for the services, to have an open party to the telemarketers of the world, by their wholesale intrusions into my life, in my time, pushing goods, services, surveys, and other fucking crap, that I didn't want, need or asked for.

It's like that shit hole of corporate idiots called the Commonwealth Bank, who every time you contact them, they then send YOUR personal information to A.C. Neilsen - a telemarketing / survey taker company, who then rings you to ask you about your experiences with the Commonwealth Bank.

Yes - the people running the Commonwealth Bank really are stupid fucks.

And the likes of the people in A.C. Neilsen, I don't want them ringing me up in my own home at night.

When I tell them, "Fuck off and don't call my number ever again" - these arseholes are ringing me, every night for the next 6 weeks.... "

Like I would not do it, but I really am perfectly OK with the idea of some other disgruntled person walking into their offices and shooting the management and staff in their faces at point blank range, or fire bombing their business's etc.

And these fucking idiots into all this telemarketing bullshit, it's like door to door hawkers selling interesting little office nick nacks and useful things.

If one were to appear, say once very three months - that would be good - I'd enjoy that. But when the transition goes from once every three months, to once a month, to once a week, to once a day, to 3 or 4 times a day, to 10 or 15 times a day - well at some stage comes a tipping point; where the interaction ceases to be interesting and useful to being a fucking pain in the arse, and then to that of shooting the fuckers on sight.

The big sign in the door - "NO HAWKERS".

It's like that with the telemarketers - it's not just one calling me once, it's dozens of them calling me and others, dozens of times every day.

These arseholes do it with FAX's - there are so many people who just switch their faxes off when they are not at work or they only switch it on to receive a known fax from a known company, otherwise they get to work in the morning and there are dozens of faxes from all these fucking arseholes piled up in the tray, pissing away their money, time, paper and toner, on shit that they do not need or want, from people they don't need or want to have anything to do with.

Well with the phone, in your own home, in your own time and in your own space - on a land line, you should not have to have these arseholes calling you, and you should not have to go to any measures to stop them from calling you.

It's when the avalanche of marketing, from every fucking idiot doing the saturation advertising campaigns, coupled with gross insensitivity and the intrusive nature of the badly timed calls, from people who by and large are fucking idiots.....

In Australia we have a corporation run by dumb fucks called Telstra, who gouge on line costs, call costs and internet costs, at about 3 to 5 times the going rate - like you can get cards that enable you to call the other side of the world for 1c a minute, and yet the scam artists in Telstra, charge you $25 an hour to call someone in the next town.. then when you fuck them off and hire another company, with far better services at a far better rate, the morons in Telstra then start calling you up, asking you to sign back up with them.

When they are asked "Are you prepared to make me an offer that is as good as or better than what the competition is currently delivering (at 40% of Telstras costs) they answer "No" - so I say to them, "Well what are you calling me for?" and I then tell them "Take my number off your list and never call me again."

Three months later they call me up again, and I tell them to fuck off and never ring me again - three months later, another call etc.. Only I tell the idiot calling me, "You tell your fucking boss, that if I ever get calls you you fucking idiots ever again - I will be going to his own home and pounding on his front door at a time of my own choosing, and demanding an answer from him, as to why you have not taken my number off your list, and why you have continued to call me, when I have repeatedly told you to fuck off."

"You tell this fucking arsehole and his idiot marketing campaign that I mean business - don't ever call me again."

There are some remedies in some countries, for some people - like do not call registries and similar, but I just think they should be burned alive at the stake.

As far as I am concerned they are all vermin that ought to be exterminated.

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Anonymous Coward

As if...

five new robocalling outfits hadn't already been started by the same operators. "Good evening, this is Janice from card services..."

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Anonymous Coward

"...tired of Bronco Bomma and Mint Romney"

Now, if only they would do something about the political robocalls!

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Re: "...tired of Bronco Bomma and Mint Romney"

Unfortunately, political speech (including political robocalls) are considered privileged speech under the 1st Amendment since they're intended to promote the election process.

I frankly think the Founders didn't quite get it right. FREE speech isn't as important as FAIR speech. Until the Constitution is amended to make that distinction, we'll be stuck with this political circus...unless it kills us first.

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Flame

Re: "...tired of Bronco Bomma and Mint Romney"

In the UK the politicians have given themselves a similar out (plus calls for 'Market Research').

When one of these calls me I point out that I have made clear by signing up to TPS that I do not want unsolicited calls. That they have decided on my behalf that I do want such calls if they are political. That if they now expect me to vote for them they can go and . . . (NSFW phrases omitted).

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Big Brother

Ok, now....

Can the FTC also cut the comms between Treasury, the Federal Reserve Management Board and Goldman Sachs for example? Or better yet, put them all in fully autistic mode? More people would be saved than the ones targeted by robocalls.

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I just wish they could do the same over here and pull the plug on the stupid "government incentives" phone-spammers who keep calling to plug their blasted solar panels. They claim selling solar panels doesn't count as a sales call for TPS (no-call list) purposes.

I was hoping the reduction in feed-in-tariff subsidies would take the wind out of their sails - much less margin to feed the vultures on - but apparently not.

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These crims belong in prison

These crims should be in prison with Bill Gates, Paul Otellini, Tim Cook and other unscrupulous CEOs.

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Anonymous Coward

The problem is the FCC and FTC. They enact rules and then don't enforce them. Sure $500 per violation is a deterrent for legit companies but when you have a company already illegally hiding where they are calling from, that deterrent means nothing. Reporting it to the FCC/FTC does nothing. I even had the higher-ups there notified and I was willing to pay for my phone to be monitored; they just gave the speech of what they do and they investigate and take all reports seriously. How are they going to take a spoofed number and find the caller?

When the government needs to cut spending, the FCC and FTC should be first and they are told that their budget comes from the fines collected. I bet then you see action out of the FCC and FTC in a timely manner. Right now, they are just a joke. The telemarketers know that the law is not on their side but getting caught is going to take a very, very longtime. Before they are caught I bet the smart ones close down and start a new scam up. If they keep moving, there is little chance of being caught.

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I don't think that'll work. Look at the USPTO. Terribly underfunded (and you see the results), yet nothing is done to either let the filing fees pay for more workers OR get more out of the federal budget. Two ways to better fund it, and they choose option ZERO. What's to stop the FTC/FCC from suffering the same fate, if it isn't already?

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What do these two agencies really do? Did the Do Not Call list really do anything? NOPE! They both enact rules and then never enforce them. What is the point of enacting them?

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RE: They both enact rules and then never enforce them.

The problem is that enforcement is civil as opposed to criminal. IOW, a fine VS jail time.

The fines are nothing more than the cost of doing business.

One way to put some teeth into the rulings is a lifetime ban on the individuals involved. Get caught a second time - off to the slammer you go. The SEC can, and has banned securities peddlers for periods as long as life due to misconduct. Violating those bans means jail time. It is about time the FTC and FCC do the same.

Lastly, I have argued with telemarketers who state that because I am not on my states (but on the federal one) do not call list, they can go ahead and call me. BULLSHIT, every one that passes that bullshit off gets an FTC complain filed. Fuck them.

Now, I wish there was some way to stop the professional fundraisers that solicit on behalf of the state troopers. I know that they (the fundraisers) "eat" more than 80% of the donations as fundraising expenses.

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Did the Do Not Call list really do anything? NOPE!

DNC made a substantial difference - I'd estimate about an order of magnitude reduction - in the number of unwanted calls I get to my home number. On many days I don't get any. (Well, not counting the election-season political calls I'm deluged with these days.) It didn't completely eliminate the problem, but it alleviated it. Sorry if it didn't help you, but I'm damn glad they instituted it.

I found I was able to reduce the "cardholder services" calls using a simple protocol: When one of those came in, I'd answer it on speaker and wait until I got the prompt, then press 1 to be connected to a representative, take it off speaker, put it on mute, and wait until the rep got tired of saying "hello? hello?" and hung up. Apparently they'd bump my number down to the end of their list. Just ignoring the calls, or letting them go to voicemail, would keep the number higher in the queue in the hope of getting an answer.

I got it down from as many as three or four a day to only a couple of times a month, and I got the satisfaction of hearing that tinny "hello?" in the background for a minute or two when they did call.

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"Just ignoring the calls, or letting them go to voicemail, would keep the number higher in the queue in the hope of getting an answer."

But at some point they have to think that perhaps the call is being actively screened, especially in these days of Caller ID being much more common. I would think after say 10 attempts sent straight to voicemail/answering machine they have to assume the call is being screened and lower its priority, too.

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temporary pause

This must be very recent, as Rachel called me yesterday.

These folks will just start it up again as, if I understand it, these are civil issue and not criminal. With criminal, you go to jail. We need these folks to do cooler-time for this to stop.

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Stop

Follow the money

Some telecom company is providing phone service to these people, and making a lot of money while turning a blind eye to the tsunami of outgoing calls. It's absurd to think that they don't know what their customer is doing -- how many customers do they have that generate that volume of outgoing calls and the corresponding billing?

Allow the telecom company to require a bond from companies that want an exceptionally large number of outgoing lines, then hold the telecom company jointly responsible if they fail to police their customers, and this problem would be solved almost immediately.

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An injunction? That should give them a chuckle

An injunction might slow a legitimate company, but these people have been flouting the do-not-call list for years. I'm certain that they have hundreds of shell companies that are owned by other shells. The FTC needs to go after the credit card banks and telecom carriers simultaneously. Those are the "legitimate" fronts that allows this to continue.

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Mushroom

I'd cheerfully contribute a few bucks to the project...

...of shutting down robocalls. And a few more toward the project of allowing public display and stoning of those involved in these. Despicable, worthless bastards not worthy of life with any sort of comforts.

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The problem is most of these outfits are off shore so they are beyond reach.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah, and the phone providers are probably like "bulletproof" ISPs, situated offshore and therefore out of US jurisdiction and using VoIP technology to look like US-based calls.

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Anonymous Coward

Temporary pause

That's my cue to immediately hang up.

If you want to talk to me, you better start as soon as I answer.

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Devil

I found a solution to these low life's - simply install a small phone system on my home phone line. I set up an auto attendant with a long list of options, "Press 1 for this, press 2 for that, ..." Few "marketers" sit through the whole message. Robo-calls are captured like flies on fly paper. I turn off the ringer and watch quietly as the annoying robots talk to my annoying robot.

Then, I give out instructions to my friends on how to navigate the twisting, turning passages, all different.

Go ahead - just TRY to make my phone ring. Nobody gets through the labyrinth alive.

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Anonymous Coward

Fighting fire with napalm

We should be able to take care of this.

1) Various agencies are already flying Predator drones in US airspace (mostly on the US-Mexican border). While it is doubtful that any of them are armed (yet), sooner or later, they will be. (As we all know, poverty-stricken Mexicans furtively crossing the border with intent to mow American lawns are a clear and present danger to the Republic.)

2) Iran claims to have spoofed an RQ-171. If *they* can do it, WE, the far more technologically astute readers of the Register, can certainly spoof and take over the command and control of the less sophisticated Predators.

3) Small, simple program needed: Configure smart phone to recognize "Rachel" and her spawn, link to Google reverse phone lookup, use Google maps to automatically locate the physical address of the caller, then forward the the GPS coordinates to send drone(s) and fire a couple of Hellfire missiles. Repeat as required. Problem solved.

Once the word gets out that robocalling can get you killed, promptly, summarily and thoroughly spattered all over the landscape, I think we'll see a rapid reduction in this particular technological nuisance.

Peace and quiet through superior firepower.

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Re: Peace and quiet through superior firepower.

I had to laugh at that one!!!!! It sounds like the 50's era propaganda.

What I wish was available on the market was "Solicitor Be Gone". Just press this red button and the solicitor at the other end would be nuked. How cool would that be!!!

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