US Settles Lawsuit Against VoIP Service Providers for Facilitating Millions of Illegal Telemarketing Calls About COVID-19 | Takeover bid
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers, VoIP Terminator Inc. and BLMarketing Inc., and their owner, Muhammed Usman Khan, have accepted a court order resolving Federal Trade Commission (FTC) allegations that they allegedly facilitated tens of millions of illegal telemarketing calls, including some calls to numbers listed in the “Do Not Call” registry and robocalls that displayed “spoofed” or fake caller ID numbers. This stipulated order resolves a lawsuit brought by the United States in a federal district court in the Intermediate District of Florida.
The government complaint alleges that Florida-based VoIP Terminator, Virginia-based BLMarketing, and Pakistani resident and citizen Khan violated FTC law and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR). Defendants violated the TSR by aiding and facilitating the transmission of illegal calls for their customers, continuing to do so even after learning that their services were being used to initiate calls to numbers in the Do Not Call registry and to place fake robocalls. The complaint alleges that the illegal calls made by the defendants included recorded messages about air duct cleaning services that allegedly filtered out COVID-19, exploiting consumer fears about the virus, as well as messages implying a reduction in credit card interest rates and tech support scams.
The stipulated order prohibits defendants from committing similar wrongdoing in the future, requires them to screen and monitor customers, terminate customers if they engage in improper telemarketing activities, and imposes a civil penalty of $3. $2 million, payment of which is suspended due to the defendants’ inability to pay. This is the FTC’s third case against VoIP service providers.
The FTC has referred this case and the proposed stipulated order to the Department of Justice. The case was handled by attorneys from the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, including trial attorneys Ellen Bowden McIntyre and Zachary Dietert and Deputy Director Lisa Hsiao, together with attorneys from the Bureau of Consumer Protection / FTC Marketing Practices Division.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. Led by the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international actors who commit civil and criminal fraud and assists agencies charged with administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by augmenting and integrating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and leveraging the information and knowledge gained during previous enforcement efforts. For more information about the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866 720 5721 or via the complaint form at NCDF line at https://www.justice. gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form