Mississippi News

Fitch sues Avid Telecom over robocalls

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch has sued Michael D. Lansky, LLC, which does business under the name Avid Telecom, its owner Michael Lansky, and its vice president Stacey S. Reeves for allegedly initiating and facilitating billions of illegal robocalls to millions of people and violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and other federal and state telemarketing and consumer laws. Avid Telecom sent or transmitted more than 7.5 billion calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, including 53,471,764 to Mississippi numbers between December 2018 and January 2023.

“Robocalls are more than just an irritant and inconvenience, they are gateways to scams,” said Fitch. “In this case, it appears that Avid knowingly violated federal and state robocall laws and, even worse, facilitated scams targeting seniors and consumers. This flagrant disregard for the welfare of our citizens and our laws will not be tolerated in Mississippi.”

Avid Telecom is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider that sells data, phone numbers, dialing software, and/or expertise to help its customers make mass robocalls. It also serves as an intermediate provider and allegedly facilitated or helped route illegal robocalls across the country. Between December 2018 and January 2023, Avid sent or attempted to transmit more than 24.5 billion calls, more than 90 percent of which were likely robocalls. In addition, Avid helped make hundreds of millions of calls using 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.

Avid Telecom allegedly sent or transmitted calls furthering Social Security Administration scams, Medicare scams, auto warranty scams, Amazon scams, DirecTV scams, credit card interest rate reduction scams, and employment scams. Examples of some of these scam calls are available to listen to here and here.

The USTelecom-led Industry Traceback Group, which notifies providers about known and suspected illegal robocalls sent across their networks, sent at least 329 notifications to Avid Telecom that it was transmitting these calls, but Avid Telecom continued to do so.

This week’s legal action arises from the nationwide Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force of 51 bipartisan Attorneys General, which includes Fitch. The task force is investigating and taking legal action against those responsible for routing significant volumes of illegal robocall traffic into and across the United States. The Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General provided investigative assistance in this matter.

Fitch is joined in filing the complaint by the Attorneys General of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

A copy of the complaint is available here.

Fitch encourages Mississippians to educate themselves on the signs of a scam to avoid them and report them.

“Always be wary of callers who specifically ask you to pay by gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency. Look out for prerecorded calls from imposters posing as government agencies. Typically, the Social Security Administration does not make phone calls to individuals,” said Fitch. “And if you suspect fraudulent activity, immediately hang-up and do not provide any personal information.”

Tips can be sent to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at consumer@ago.ms.gov or complete the consumer complaint form here.

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