FTC and Justice Dept. launch 'Operation Call It Quits' against robocallers

The U.S. Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission have launched ‘Operation Call It Quits in what regulators promise will be a concerted crackdown on illegal robocallers.

The Congressional Research Service reported last year that the Federal Trade Commission has issued over $1.5 billion in fines for illegally making autodialed robocalls to trick millions of Americans into answer automated calls. Although some robocallers are legitimate, most have tended to be fraudulent pitches that engage in outright money theft or lure unsuspecting victims to buy mislabeled products.

The Treasury Inspector General reported over 12,716 victims have been defrauded out of at least $63 million since 2013 through the “IRS Scam,” where robocallers using fake names and bogus government identification threaten victims with arrest if they do not immediately satisfy IRS collection payments. Immigrants with limited English skills have also been called in native languages and threatened with deportation if they fail to pay.

Although U.S. and state regulators have assessed a hefty array of fines against serial robocalling offenders, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Communications Commission since 2015 has collected only $6,790 of the $208.4 million in fines under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Do Not Call Registry.

The biggest robocall culprit may be Aaron Michael Jones, or possibly Michael Aaron Jones, with a last known address at a $25,000 a month Spanish Colonial home in a gated community near Laguna Beach, California. Jones reportedly had a personal chef, drove a Mercedes, and maintained a gambling account at the Las Vegas Bellagio Casino.

Jones sustained his rich and famous lifestyle through a robocall business to make over 1 billion calls a year using TelWeb software. Answered calls were directed to an Irvine, California office where call-center employees pitched off-brand auto warranties, home security systems, search-engine optimization tools and other services.

Jones and his nine companies were sued by the FTC for telecommunications fraud in 2017. He ignored the suit and the judge awarded the FTC a $2.7 million default judgment and banned Jones from telemarketing. The FTC sued Jones again in 2018 for deceptive practices related to making robocalls targeting small business owners.

After receiving 232,000 consumer complaints in 2018 regarding robocalls, the FTC claims that ‘Operation Call It Quits will be a full court press against this illegal activity. Under the FTC amended Telemarketing Sales Rule, robocall sales pitches are now banned unless companies have consumers’ express written permission to call. Violators now include the robocall companies and any person making an illegal call.

The FTC’s Operation Call it Quits has already partnered with the U.S. Justice Department in May to file actions against four companies and 22 individuals for making “billions” of robocalls.” That brings the total number of court cases filed to 145, naming 479 companies and 387 as responsible individuals.  

The U.S. Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission have launched ‘Operation Call It Quits in what regulators promise will be a concerted crackdown on illegal robocallers.

The Congressional Research Service reported last year that the Federal Trade Commission has issued over $1.5 billion in fines for illegally making autodialed robocalls to trick millions of Americans into answer automated calls. Although some robocallers are legitimate, most have tended to be fraudulent pitches that engage in outright money theft or lure unsuspecting victims to buy mislabeled products.

The Treasury Inspector General reported over 12,716 victims have been defrauded out of at least $63 million since 2013 through the “IRS Scam,” where robocallers using fake names and bogus government identification threaten victims with arrest if they do not immediately satisfy IRS collection payments. Immigrants with limited English skills have also been called in native languages and threatened with deportation if they fail to pay.

Although U.S. and state regulators have assessed a hefty array of fines against serial robocalling offenders, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Communications Commission since 2015 has collected only $6,790 of the $208.4 million in fines under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Do Not Call Registry.

The biggest robocall culprit may be Aaron Michael Jones, or possibly Michael Aaron Jones, with a last known address at a $25,000 a month Spanish Colonial home in a gated community near Laguna Beach, California. Jones reportedly had a personal chef, drove a Mercedes, and maintained a gambling account at the Las Vegas Bellagio Casino.

Jones sustained his rich and famous lifestyle through a robocall business to make over 1 billion calls a year using TelWeb software. Answered calls were directed to an Irvine, California office where call-center employees pitched off-brand auto warranties, home security systems, search-engine optimization tools and other services.

Jones and his nine companies were sued by the FTC for telecommunications fraud in 2017. He ignored the suit and the judge awarded the FTC a $2.7 million default judgment and banned Jones from telemarketing. The FTC sued Jones again in 2018 for deceptive practices related to making robocalls targeting small business owners.

After receiving 232,000 consumer complaints in 2018 regarding robocalls, the FTC claims that ‘Operation Call It Quits will be a full court press against this illegal activity. Under the FTC amended Telemarketing Sales Rule, robocall sales pitches are now banned unless companies have consumers’ express written permission to call. Violators now include the robocall companies and any person making an illegal call.

The FTC’s Operation Call it Quits has already partnered with the U.S. Justice Department in May to file actions against four companies and 22 individuals for making “billions” of robocalls.” That brings the total number of court cases filed to 145, naming 479 companies and 387 as responsible individuals.