FFC Places Record Fines on Man’s Illegal Robocalling

The Federal Communications Commission have identified the perpetrator behind one of the largest illegal robocalling campaigns they have ever investigated. Telemarketers are prohibited from making prerecorded phone calls to people without prior consent. In response to the campaign, the FCC has proposed a $120 million fine for the Miami resident responsible for almost 97 million robocalls over the last three months of 2016.

The man in question, Adrian Abramovich, is credited with auto-dialing hundreds of millions of calls to both cellphones and landlines in the U.S. and Canada, having at one point overwhelmed an emergency medical paging service. Abramovich would make robocalls on behalf of his ambiguously named companies such as “Marketing Strategy Leaders” or just “Marketing Leaders.” The calls would be spoofed, showing up as numbers with the same area code and the same first three digits of the recipient’s number. This has a psychological effect on callers, As the localized numbers suggest a direct relation instead of an automated call, encouraging callers to answer their phones.

Should recipients answer the robocalls, they would receive an automated message offering exclusive vacation deals on behalf of legitimate travel companies including Hilton, Marriott and TripAdvisor with instructions to “Press 1” to learn more. Complying leads the recipient onto a line with a call center offering discounted vacation packages as well as time shares that are unaffiliated with the aforementioned brands. Using known companies helps sell the legitimacy that affords telemarketers the opportunity to then offer their own product or service. These companies unknowingly act as a foot in the door without even being involved.

According to FCC documents, TripAdvisor investigated the robocalls that were stated to have been selling deals on behalf of the company, finding call centers that were revealed to be in Mexico. TripAdvisor acted preemptively in order to ensure their reputation did not suffer major damage because even though they were not involved in the Robocalling campaign, their name was being used and therefore explicitly connected to the fraud. Therefore, the investigation was in their best interest and has resulted in their image no longer being tainted considering the repercussions Abramovich will be facing.

It is illegal to deliberately falsify caller ID with the intent to harm or defraud consumers, but considering the damage even unintentional falsification of caller ID in regards to emergency services would result in heavy repercussions. Abramovich now faces a proposed penalty that is likely to be a record for the FCC. The FCC have stated that the fine is for Abramovich’s unlawful caller ID spoofing, and Abramovich has also received a citation from the agency’s Enforcement Bureau, considering that his mass Robocalling campaign violates the Communications Act. Abramovich’s misrepresentations as an agent on behalf of travel companies in the prerecorded messages also constitute criminal wire fraud.

Misrepresentation in a prerecorded message that plays on psychological effects en masse proves a dangerous service that targets people who are vulnerable or do not know better. Due to the suggested authoritative nature that an agent acting on behalf of a company has, as well as the frequent and large callings casts a strong and large net that will more than likely result in sales. By playing on the vulnerable through psychological means, telemarketers can have consumers not only buying products or services they do not need but also at a rate that is beyond what they would be willing to spend. While the responsibility lies with the telemarketer, the burden falls on the consumers. Therefore, it is vital that consumers take care when engaging in any form of transaction over the phone, especially should the services rendered become unaffiliated with the initial company that drew you in the first place.

Abramovich now has 30 days to respond to the FCC, which is expected to finalize the investigation and penalties in the following months.

Featured Image via Pixabay

Wells Fargo CEO Forfeits Majority of 2016 Salary and $41 Million in Stocks

Wells Fargo has been getting a lot of attention lately for the recent seemingly neverending issues with their practices. As the company faces some serious criminal allegations, some employees of the company have been taking some measures to rectify things. According to CNN, the CEO of Wells Fargo is giving up $41 million dollars in stock awards. This news has officials as well as patrons of the bank looking at the company’s practices once again.

The news arose on Tuesday. CNN is reporting that the company’s CEO, John Stumpf, is going to forfeit the majority of his 2016 salary along with the $41 million dollar bonus he was supposed to receive as a bonus. In addition, another Wells Fargo executive will be suffering from some wage pullbacks as well. Officials have also been reporting that Carrie Tolstedt will also be losing some of her wages, as she is also leaving the company. Though she was scheduled to leave the company for her retirement, due to the recent controversy she has pushed up her exit from Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo has been turning heads all over the nation due to the creation of fake accounts recently coming to light. CNN reported earlier this month that employees of the company were not only putting in unauthorized credit card applications to get bonuses, but the employees were also creating fake checking accounts to make goals and receive bonuses from the company. The company will have to reimburse all those who have been affected by the illegal practices.

Wells Fargo is a bank that many people in the United States as well as the world use and are familiar with. The company is making efforts to not only restore its good name but to regain the trust of its loyal customers. As the changes continue to be made, it will be interesting to see how the company will be able to recover.

A Surprise Ending during Immigration Protest at White House

This Thursday, June 5th, ten activists from the Pro-Immigration Organization, “United We Dream”, planted themselves down with signs, hollering chants in the middle of a busy intersection near the White House. Their protests called for the halt of deportations of illegal immigrants, smack dab in the middle of traffic, at the corner of 16th and H Streets NW, which would usually prompt police action. Yet this time, D.C. police allowed the protestors to peacefully execute their First Amendment rights.

The group remained on the street for almost four hours telling stories, singing, and chanting until they migrated to just outside the White House, echoing their protests. The activists also referenced the struggles of undocumented LGBTQ immigrants, highlighting the hostile and harsh treatment and attitudes toward homosexuality harbored in their origin countries.

President Obama, in the past, has granted many illegal immigrants who had been brought to the country as children immunity from deportation, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which lent safety and opportunities for those to openly work and live in the U.S. “United We Dream” is protesting to have the same rights and protections extended to the members within their organization.

In the past, the protestors found themselves arrested, fearing for their lives and possessions. Shocked that their protests did not end in imprisonment, Mario Carillo, spokesman for “United We Dream” said the group consisting of people all brought to the U.S. illegally as children “all ended on a really proud moment.”





Photo: European Pressphoto Agency