back to article Florida Man to be fined $1.25 per robocall... all 96 million of them

America's comms regulator, the FCC, will fine a Florida Man $120m for flooding the country with nearly 100 million robocalls in three months. The watchdog said that Adrian Abramovich of Miami ran a scheme that made more than a million calls a day – each with its caller ID information altered – with the aim of selling travel …

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Mushroom

Neighbor spoofing takes place when the caller falsifies the caller ID to match the area code and first three digits of the recipient's phone number...

That explains the calls I've been getting on my mobile! Always my area code and first three digits. I never answer and I have an app that forever blocks them.

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Trollface

They use to answer... then when it was a local number, I offered to come sign the documents in their office, "I live just around the corner, I could walk" I told them... suddenly "oh, we are closing soon, I have to go, bye!".

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Boffin

@BillG you may not want to block those numbers.

The problem with the 'neighbor spoofing' which I've been getting on my home phone and cell, is that the numbers being used may be a legitimate number to a real person.

I've had one of the spoofed calls and I called it back just to see if it was real.

There was someone on the other end and I asked why they just called me. They said that they didn't.

Most of the spoofs are from numbers that are not currently in service.

The truth is that if the FCC wanted to, and if they made this a priority, there are a couple of things that they could do to help shut these guys down. One of them includes mandatory jail time for repeat offenders.

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Re: @BillG you may not want to block those numbers.

<quote>The truth is that if the FCC wanted to, and if they made this a priority, there are a couple of things that they could do to help shut these guys down. One of them includes mandatory jail time summary execution for repeat offenders.</quote>

FTFY

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WTF?

Good luck with collecting that fine.

How is it that fines that stand no earthly chance of being paid are handed out to individuals like this, yet when a massive corporate misbehaves it usually results in something that can come out of petty cash?

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Re: Good luck with collecting that fine.

I'm sure that the telephone network/networks he was using will pretend like they had absolutely no idea that their systems were being abused. 96,000,000 calls with fake caller ID never raised any concerns.

I don't believe for a moment that the FCC and FTC want to stop robocalls when they don't penalize the networks making it possible. Instead they claim they helped promote "Nomorobo" that was completely useless even before it launched.

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Re: Good luck with collecting that fine.

This is a vastly reduced fine.

Under the TCPA _statutory_ damages of $11,500 per call are payable to the FCC (and $500 to each person personally affected).

This is tripled for wilful violations. Falsifying caller-ID data is automatic wilful violation, as is breaching do not call lists.

On top of that there are the FTC fines and individual states have penalties of up to $55,000 per call plus wilful violation penalties.

The idea is quite deliberately to bankrupt egrarious offenders and prevent them ever going into business again. Apart from the costs of fighting off "Big Government", the TCPA has a right of private action which allows those who were called to file in Small Claims Court for each call received - the death of one million paper cuts. Bankruptcy generally can't be used to avoid court judgements in the USA either.

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Boffin

Re: Good luck with collecting that fine.

The problem is that most don't fill out the form of the offender.

While you may have the fake phone number, you don't know the company that they represent.

So what do you put in the form?

The other issue is that the scammer will do two things. First live off the proceeds knowing that he's going to get caught. Second keep a set of dodgy books to hide money and also not report all of the income.

So if the guy made millions, he'll end up saying he can't afford to pay even though he lives in a 30 million dollar mansion in Florida and his 'divorced' er separated wife lives in another 30 million dollar mansion which by law, can't be repossessed or forced to be sold in order to make restitution. (Primary residence only.)

They'll make some token restitution and 6 months later, open up shop with someone else as the corporate officer and continue the scam.

The only way to nail them is to make it a felony with mandatory jail time.

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Re: Good luck with collecting that fine.

I think I actually reported that one on the FCC website. I normally wouldn't bother but with multiple calls to multiple mobile phones within 24 hours, all playing the same message, I had good documentation.

If it gets the FCC to crack down on the scammers and their enablers, maybe it'll keep the phone network usable for a few more years until we get a usable replacement.

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Re: Good luck with collecting that fine.

What's wrong with a mandatory death sentence?

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Unhappy

Re: Good luck with collecting that fine.

from the article: "When answered, they played a recorded message"

and that recorded message starts the moment my answering machine says "Hellloooo Baaaaby!" like the Big Bopper [followed by a pause, followed by a welcome to friends and family and 'for the rest of you' this number is on the national do not call list - I don't pick up the phone any more unless I hear someone I know leaving a message - no ringer either]. If the recording leaves ANY identifying information, a complaint is generated. And the answering machine message only has the back half of the thing, as it "starts talking" over the machine message EVERY! TIME!. Assuming it's not "just a hangup". I've been getting SEVERAL CALLS PER DAY lately, just like that. It's FORNICATING IRRITATING AS HELL! Can't use the phone as it was intended any more. If it weren't for DSL, I'd consider NOT EVEN HAVING ONE.

But how can you register a complaint with SPOOFED caller ID and NO identifying information in the recorded message??? I'm a RABID complainer to the FCC about these guys. I've got 'confirmed kills' on FAX spammers from a while back. I'd DROOL over a CONFIRMED kill with one of THESE BASTARDS! But they've rigged it so complainers like me can't touch them. You have to wait for the FORNICATING call center and bother to ask questions and get called back REPEATEDLY by them now that you've "established a relationship with them".

Oh, and there's no pit in hell deep enough, no jail cell damp and cold enough, no punishment HIDEOUS AND CRUEL enough, for these GOSH DARNED MOTHER-FEELING ROBO-CALLERS (word substitution for humor)! They deserve a triple-eternity sentence with DAILY TORMENT, to the point where they insanely scream "I DESERVE THIS!"

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Re: Good luck with collecting that fine.

I signed up for nomorobo a month or so ago and it has been working very well for me.

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Devil

Re: Good luck with collecting that fine.

I think a fitting punishment would be to make the perp scrub public toilets until shiny clean, one toilet per call violation.

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Where do the fines go?

Probably to some FCC enforcement desk jockey. They should of course go to those who were called. Automatic credit on their phone bill. NO LAWYERS involved, please!

Look, I can dream.

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Re: Where do the fines go?

"They should of course go to those who were called. Automatic credit on their phone bill. NO LAWYERS involved, please!"

My thoughts exactly. Dial some code. The telecoms company charges the caller number - the real one, not the spoof, as if the recipient was a premium number. The company also adds a commission. The call comes in via a different telecoms company? No problem, just bill them and let them charge the caller, adding their own commission. It would need some policing - it would be unacceptable to let recipients flag anyone who called them - but the first claims against a number could be held until there were sufficient to ensure that it was a problem caller. The only way out for the robocaller would be to fail to pay their bill. That's just a matter for the credit control department of the telecoms company to deal with.

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Re: Where do the fines go?

That's just a matter for the credit control department of the telecoms company to deal with."

Isn't that cruel and unusual punishment? NO ONE expects the Credit Control Department!

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Re: Where do the fines go?

NO ONE expects the Credit Control Department!

Oi! My wife used to work in Credit Control! How very dare..

Hang on.. Errr..

Hello dear..

Yes dear..

Sorry - must dash. Work to do. Boy stuff.

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Notice that the complaints weren't investigated by the FCC until it started to effect companies with deep pockets (or perhaps, expensive lobbyists).

Our complaints never get addressed! Our government only exits to serve their corporate masters now.

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Headmaster

You get to choose

Either "started to have an effect on" or "started to affect".

It's Grumpy Friday.

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At some level it's the big company, receiving thousands of identical complaints, that can paint a picture clear enough for FCC to see and understand. I assume that most of the junk calls that hit my system are spoofed numbers, especially when it's the local area code, given that I only know one person with the same code as me and they would register as known. If the house phone rings then it's the job of the answering machine to take the call.

Of course, the real problem is that it is too easy to spoof a caller ID. Perhaps if that could be prevented, so that unverified stuff presented as withheld or out of area, a lot of the scammers would find it harder to reach real people.

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Boffin

@Number6

There is spoofing the Caller ID which has some legitimate reasons although technically its not spoofing.

That said, the phone company knows the correct number from the call.

They know where the call originated.

The problem is if the call comes from a SIP provider. (E.g. Vonage) They don't know the IP address of the originating caller, just the number which would be registered to the SIP provider. Once you know this.. you can shut down those robodialers and call centers in India running the scam. (Or some other country where its harder to track down the caller. )

If you made the SIP provider liable... you can bet they will be much more cooperative.

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Re: @Number6

"If you made the SIP provider liable."

Why stop there? Irrespective of whether the call originates by SIP, make the telco responsible if the offender can't or won't pay the fine. They'd be a damn sight more careful about servicing call centres and robocallers.

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" I assume that most of the junk calls that hit my system are spoofed numbers,"

So do I, but the TCPA provides joint and several liability (caller and the hirer), so if you can grit your teeth and drill down far enough to identify the company, you can file in small claims.

The fun part is asking the judge to order the hirer to name who they hired or face contempt of court - this is how you can get the FCC involved.

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Re: @Number6

The problem is if the call comes from a SIP provider. (E.g. Vonage)

You just treat it as withheld if you don't trust the source. If the SIP provider has robust policies in place that make it very difficult to spoof a number then you allow their CID through. If they don't then you block it. For many years (it may still be true with more justification now) that was BT's excuse for not passing on international CID, that they couldn't guarantee its accuracy. We ended up in the situation that if a call entered the country on a BT-terminated cable then it would present as INTERNATIONAL, if it came in via Mercury (remember them?) then you'd get a proper international CID displayed.

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Do Not Call Registry?

But nothing for violating the Do Not Call Registry? Hard to believe he verified each number he fed the robocaller had been vetted against that list.

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Re: Do Not Call Registry?

Robocalls alone are a wilful violation of the TCPA @ $11,500 per call to the FCC (tripled) and $500 per call to the victim (tripled)

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Flame

Re: Do Not Call Registry?

at $500/robocall I'd have at least $30k by now (this year alone)

I WANT MY MONEY!

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I wanted to get a 900 number

I wanted to get a 900 number for my home phone, that way when any of those robocall companies called me I'd make money. Maybe $10 for the first minute and $5 for every minute after that.

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Re: I wanted to get a 900 number

I _did_ get a 900 number - or the UK equivalent for personal numbers - a 070 number.

I don't make any money but at £1.50/min it can get extremely expensive for businesses to annoy me.

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Re: I wanted to get a 900 number

I don't make any money

You're doing it wrong: "Could you go through that again....I'll have to discuss it with wife/husband/cat, can you call back?".

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Put him in a cell for 10 years with someone who can't stop making knock-knock jokes.

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I think he should be made to listen to each and every single one of those 96million calls too.

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Knock knock

Who's there?

NSA

Look, matie, either I'm Scottish or I'm Canadian, not both. So fuck off with your Innis, eh?

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Knock knock

Who's there?

TripAdvisor

Trip Advisor who?

TripAdvisor Hoo is where the dark ages Suck sons buried their gold, and I did too.

I could probably go on for hours, but you get the idea. I call Time on knock knock jokes.

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Trollface

"Put him in a cell for 10 years with someone who can't stop making knock-knock jokes."

Or a very large, smelly person that refers to him as "Ben Dover"

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Er....

The calls, 96 million of them in total, were presented on caller ID as coming from travel companies like TripAdvisor, Expedia, Hilton, and Marriott.

...

"Neighbor spoofing takes place when the caller falsifies the caller ID to match the area code and first three digits of the recipient's phone number, instead of the caller's number or the number where the call was actually originating."

So, er, which is it? Pretending to be TripAdvisor, or neighbour spoofing? I don't quite see how it could be *both* for the same call...

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@Adam Will Re: Er....

Both.

The caller id spoofed with the local number.

The content is made to sound like its Trip Advisor or Expedia or Hilton.

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Re: @Adam Will Er....

But the story specifically referred to caller ID spoofing, not 'content made to sound like'.

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Punishment

Feed him to the sharks.

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Re: Punishment

What did the sharks do to you that you'd want to punish them this way?

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Re: Punishment

No 90,000 kicks to the ball

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I'd like to see the Conservative Party of Canada fined 11,000 yankee dollars for every dodgy robocall made on their behalf in the 2011 federal election. Search terms: "robocall scandal".

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Politcal robocalls

Being a yank (well, living in Yankistan) I don't know about Canadian law, but in the U.S. there are exceptions to robocalling and "Do Not Call" violations. Chief among them are "calls from politicians". You wouldn't want to miss out on the latest saga of how your brave representatives are perpetually fighting for your welfare, would you?

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Lack Of Security

I think it is sad the phone system is so easily hacked and spoofed.

Can't trust government to do anything right.

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Re: Lack Of Security

There are many valid reasons for "spoofing" a phone number, eg someone from the hospital phones you and present the main switchboard number to you. Or any large organisation where calling back the specific number which called you might not be the best option. How do you police that in a way that doesn't cause problems for those who have a valid need for the service?

Calling for this sort of "law" is why the world is swamped with petty little laws that cause no end of problems for the majority in often misguided attempts to thwart a minority. Draconian kneejerkery on UK gun and knife laws have caused problems for many people but no significant effect on either gun or knife crime. The obvious government style "fix" would probably be to order telcos to limit how many and how often a phone call can made.

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Re: Lack Of Security

"There are many valid reasons for "spoofing" a phone number"

All of which are covered by "authorised use", vs "unauthorised use"

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Re: Lack Of Security

All of which are trivially fixed by only allowing a caller to present as a phone number they themselves own.

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Re: Lack Of Security

> Draconian kneejerkery on UK gun and knife laws

Except where our murder rate is vastly lower per 100,000 than the USA...

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Anonymous Coward

I don't get it

People were upset they were scammed by an individual and not by Tripadvisor and their ilk?

What's the difference between buying an overpriced trip from a John Doe or $bigcompany? You're cheated either way.

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Re: I don't get it

I read it as they were complainig about robocalls that they thought were TripAdvisor et al.

So were contacting TripAdvisor et al and telling then to kindly go stick their calls where the sun does not shine... except it wasn't them making the calls

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