Robocalls: Finally, DOJ seeks court enforcement action against telecoms for phone spam

Automated phone spam is a growing plague for anyone with a telephone, landline or cell.

The U.S. Department of Justice today announced that they're trying to get court approval to take enforcement action against various telecommunications companies for their alleged role in facilitating robocalls.

As far as I can tell, this is the first time DOJ has taken *any* enforcement action against telecoms over robocalls.

About time. Go read the announcement.

The filing accuses certain telecoms of "facilitating robocallls across their networks," and says the losses to robocall scam victims total up to hundreds of millions of dollars.

DOJ is focusing on a set of companies that includes two groups "originating in India, and operating out of residential addresses in New York and Arizona," said Jody Hunt, Assistant Attorney General for the department's civil division.

From CNBC's reporting:

The groups were responsible for hundreds of millions of calls per month, Hunt said. The Justice Department is seeking court approval to stop the organizations from making further calls, he said. The companies include two Arizona-based companies and three Long Island, N.Y.-based companies, all of which were operated out of residential addresses in those states, according to the press conference.

The Arizona defendants are, SIP Retail and their owner-operators, Nicholas Palumbo and Natasha Palumbo of Scottsdale. The New York defendants are Global Voicecom Inc., Global Telecommunication Services Inc., KAT Telecom Inc. and their owner-operator Jon Kahen of Great Neck, N.Y. The defendant companies and individuals could not immediately be reached for comment.

The accused companies serve "gateways" for the fraudulent call operators, and take payment for facilitating the calls and passing them into the regular U.S. telecommunications network using digital voice over IP technology, according to the Justice Department. Companies like AT&T and other large telecommunications companies had already advised the companies they were facilitating fraudulent calls, the department said. Through these gateways, overseas fraudsters used fake numbers to mimic emergency lines or government agencies like the IRS or social security administration, hoping to rope U.S. residents into financial scams based on the premise that the victims owed a government agency money or were subject to some kind of law enforcement action if they did not pay, the DOJ said.

Read more:

DOJ seeks court approval to stop companies from making robocalls

[, Kate Fazzini, CNBC]