New York Attorney General Letitia James today sued Avid Telecom (Avid), its owner Michael Lansky, and its vice president Stacey S. Reeves for illegally initiating and facilitating billions of robocalls to millions of Americans. The lawsuit alleges that Avid ignored repeated notifications that it was conducting illegal robocalls and made more than 7.5 billion calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. Today’s legal action arises from the nationwide, bipartisan Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force of 51 attorneys general.
“Americans are sick and tired of their phones ringing off the hook with fraudulent robocalls,” said Attorney General James. “Seniors and vulnerable consumers have been scammed out of millions because of these illegal robocalls. Today we are suing Avid Telecom for facilitating these annoying and illegal calls and for hurting ordinary Americans. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to protect consumers and put an end to this national nuisance.”
Avid Telecom is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider that sells data, phone numbers, dialing software, and expertise to help its customers make mass robocalls. The company provides its customers with Direct Inward Dialing (DID), which appear as a “Caller ID” number to an individual receiving a call. Avid sold DIDs in bulk and provided DIDs for telephone numbers from every area code in the United States. Avid’s customers were then able to use caller ID numbers with the same area code as the call recipient to increase the odds of the recipient answering the phone, a practice known as “spoofing.”
Between December 2018 and January 2023, Avid facilitated more than 24.5 billion calls. More than 90 percent of those calls lasted less than 15 seconds, which indicates they were likely robocalls. Further, Avid helped make hundreds of millions of calls using spoofed or invalid caller ID numbers, including more than 8.4 million calls that appeared to be coming from government and law enforcement agencies, as well as private companies. Avid sent or transmitted scam calls about Social Security Administration scams, Medicare scams, auto warranty scams, Amazon scams, DirecTV scams, credit card interest rate reduction scams, and employment scams. Examples of some of these scam calls are available to listen to here and here.
The USTelecom-led Industry Traceback Group, which is designated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to notify providers about known and suspected illegal robocalls sent across their networks, sent at least 329 notifications to Avid that it was transmitting illegal robocalls, but Avid ignored those notifications and continued to transmit those illegal robocalls.
The lawsuit alleges that Avid transmitted robocall campaigns in which the telemarketer and/or seller:
- Misrepresented material aspects of goods or services,
- Misrepresented the seller’s or telemarketer’s affiliation with corporations or government entities,
- Made false or misleading statements to induce any person to pay for goods or services,
- Failed to transmit or cause to be transmitted the real telephone number and the name of the telemarketer to caller identification services used by call recipients,
- Initiated or caused the initiation of outbound calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry,
- Initiated or caused the initiation of outbound telephone calls that delivered prerecorded messages, and
- Failed to disclose the identity of the seller of the goods or services truthfully, promptly, and in a clear and conspicuous manner to the person receiving the call.
The lawsuit alleges that Avid violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and other federal and state telemarketing and consumer laws. Filed in the U.S. District Court of Arizona, the lawsuit seeks to secure a judgment stopping Avid from making and transmitting illegal calls, and ordering Avid to pay civil penalties, restitution, and damages to the plaintiff states.
The Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force is investigating and taking legal action against those responsible for routing significant volumes of illegal robocall traffic into and across the United States. The Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General provided investigative assistance in this matter.
Joining Attorney General James in filing today’s complaint are the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.