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Monday, July 15, 2024

State AGs Sue Telecom Company over Billions of Robocalls

'Americans are sick and tired of their phones ringing off the hook with fraudulent robocalls...'

(Headline USAAttorneys general across the U.S. joined in a lawsuit against a telecommunications company accused of making more than 7.5 billion robocalls to people on the national Do Not Call Registry.

The 141-page lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Phoenix against Avid Telecom, its owner Michael D. Lansky and company vice president Stacey S. Reeves. It seeks a jury trial to determine damages.

The lawsuit arises from the nationwide, bipartisan Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force of 51 attorneys general and the District of Columbia. It was formed last year to investigate and take legal action against telecommunications companies routing volumes of robocall traffic.

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes said nearly 197 million of the robocalls were made to Arizona phone numbers between December 2018 and January 2023.

“Every day, countless Arizona consumers are harassed and annoyed by a relentless barrage of unwanted robocalls—and in some instances these illegal calls threaten consumers with lawsuits and arrest,” Mayes said in a statement. “More disturbingly, many of these calls are scams designed to pressure frightened consumers, often senior citizens, into handing over their hard-earned money.”

The lawsuit said Avid Telecom used 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.

The company also allegedly sent or transmitted scam calls about the Social Security Administration, Medicare, Amazon and DirecTV, as well as auto warranties, employment and credit card interest rate reductions.

“Americans are sick and tired of their phones ringing off the hook with fraudulent robocalls,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “Seniors and vulnerable consumers have been scammed out of millions because of these illegal robocalls.”

The lawsuit alleges Lansky and Reeves violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule and other federal and state telemarketing and consumer laws.

“Contrary to the allegations in the complaint, Avid Telecom operates in a manner that is compliant with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations,” said Neil Ende, the company’s outside legal counsel.

Avid has never been found previously to have violated the law and that it was prepared to meet with the attorney general “to further demonstrate its good faith,” Ende said.

“In this context, the company is disappointed that the attorneys’ general chose not to communicate their concerns directly before filing the lawsuit,” Ende added. “While the company always prefers to work with regulators and law enforcement to address issues of concern, as necessary, the company will defend itself vigorously and vindicate its rights and reputation through the legal process.”

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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