Five Companies Sued By Justice Department Over Robocalls

Five U.S. companies and three individuals have been sued by the U.S. government for making hundreds of millions of fraudulent robocalls. The action comes after President Donald Trump signed a measure aimed at cracking down on robocalls last month. The government says the named companies were warned numerous times about the fraudulent robocalls before action was taken.

The companies that have been sued include Tollfreedeals.com, Global Voicecom Inc., Global Telecommunication Services Inc. and KAT Telecom Inc. Nicholas Palumbo, 38, and Natasha Palumbo, 33, of Scottsdale, Arizona and Jon Kahen, 45, of Great Neck, N.Y. are also named as defendants in the suits as owner/operators of the mentioned companies.

According to the U.S. Justice Department lawsuits, most of the calls originated in India and used voice over internet protocol (VoIP) carriers. The government wrote in a court filing that “with little more than off the shelf VoIP technology, an autodialer and a business relationship with a gateway carriers, any individual or entity with a broadband internet connection can introduce unlimited numbers of robocalls into the U.S. telephone system from any location in the world.”

The government says that the robocalls scammed elderly Americans and others into “massive financial losses.” The suit states that TollFreeDeals.com carried 720 million calls during one 23-day period. More than 425 million of those calls lasted less than one second, indicating that they were robocalls.

According to the court documents, the victims were usually threatened with phony legal action to spook them into handing over their money. The Justice Department wrote that the calls “falsely threatened victims with a variety of catastrophic government actions, including termination of social security benefits, imminent arrest for alleged tax fraud, and deportation for supposed failure to fill out immigration forms correctly.”

The lawsuit seeks temporary restraining orders against the entities named. Assistant Attorney General Jody H. Hunt said in a statement, “If we get the relief we’ve sought, it will shut down their ability to make the calls. [We’ve] spent a lot of effort to investigate these matters and obtained specific evidence to seek the court orders to stop the action.”