Record $120 million fine for nuisance robocalls

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fine was against Adrian Abramovich, who operates massive robocall operations.

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An estimated 2.49 billion robocalls were reportedly made to consumers in the United States in October 2017, which translates to an estimated 80.5 million robocalls placed every day, and these numbers seem to be increasing every month. To increase the likelihood that consumers would answer his calls, Mr. Abramovich's operation made calls that appeared to be local-a practice known as "neighbor spoofing".

The robocalls offered discounted travel services to Mexico, the Caribbean and Florida, from Expedia, Marriott, Hilton and TripAdvisor, according to the complaint. In almost every case, he was the sole director, the FCC said. In its decision, the FCC said his arguments were unpersuasive, so it has chose to go forward with the original fine it proposed. Complaints submitted by both consumers and these companies are what led to the record find.

"The list of brands impersonated by these fraudsters goes well beyond TripAdvisor and reads like a who's who of well-known airlines, hoteliers and online travel agents", said TripAdvisor in a statement.

Abramovich's robocalls only make up a small fraction of those regularly received by Americans; 3.4 billion were made in April, up 30 percent from a year ago.

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He also maintained that the offers were real.

He denied engaging in "fraudulent activities" and said "it was always my intent with the FCC to negotiate toward an appropriate fine within my ability to pay such an amount".

"Our decision sends a loud and clear message: this FCC is an active cop on the beat and will throw the book at anyone who violates our spoofing and robocall rules".

The FCC fine is part of a multifaceted effort to crack down on robocalls, which have spurred more than 4.5 million complaints to federal regulators in recent years.

The fine is a part of the FCC's complicated relationship with robocalls.

Apple, Google and Microsoft joined a "strike force" in 2016 to try and reduce robocalls, at the direction of the FCC.

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