A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against a group of companies that are alleged to have facilitated the placement of millions of fraudulent foreign calls to U.S. consumers in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The 31-page lawsuit—which names as defendants the company and individuals who operate TollFreeDeals.com and SipRetail.com; Global Voicecom, Inc.; Global Telecommunication Services Inc.; and KAT Telecom, Inc.—alleges the defendants have knowingly provided U.S.-bound calling services to “foreign fraudsters” and acted as gateway carriers to pass robocalls into the U.S. telephone system “by the millions.”
The case explains that foreign robocall scams—which commonly involve callers who mean to trick vulnerable consumers into sending money by posing as government entities or tech-support for well-known companies—depend on internet-based VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology to place calls “without regard to whether the call recipient uses a cellular phone or a traditional, wired phone.” VoIP calls placed to U.S. phones by a foreign call center or telecommunications company must go through U.S.-based VoIP “gateway” carriers, such as the defendants, before reaching a “common carrier,” such as AT&T or Verizon, and ultimately a U.S. consumer, the lawsuit says. This chain, the suit explains, allows foreign callers to use “spoofed” phone numbers that disguise the origin of the call and their true identities.
According to the case, the defendants knowingly transmit “massive volumes” of fraudulent robocalls into the U.S. despite “clear indicia” of their deceptive nature, including repeated complaints and warnings from other telecommunications companies, vendors, and an industry trade group. The plaintiff claims that despite being well-aware of their part in facilitating robocall scams, the defendants have continued doing business with known scammers while attempting to avoid detection. From the complaint:
“Disregarding all laws, ignoring complaints and warnings, and acting with a selfish quest for mammon regardless of the intrusive burden they placed on their fellow Americans, the Defendants deliberately facilitated hundreds of millions of spam robocalls, while hiding behind false telephone numbers and spoofed caller ID’s.”
The case claims the defendants specifically market their services to foreign entities “looking to transmit high volumes of robocalls” to U.S. consumers. According to the complaint, the defendant companies provide “unrestricted” VoIP calling, meaning they allow a high volume of short-duration calls—which the suit says is a clear indication of fraud—to pass through without restriction or monitoring. The defendant companies also provide “return-calling services” to fraudulent entities that facilitate further contact by allowing consumers to call them back, the case alleges.
The lawsuit concludes by claiming there is “substantial evidence” of the defendants’ knowledge of the robocall scams transmitted through their services as well as the TCPA violations triggered by such calls, which indicates that their conduct is intentional.
“The depth and breadth of Defendants’ violation of the TCPA is astonishing,” the complaint reads, “as it continued for years, involved hundreds of millions of calls, and continued despite multiple complaints, inquiries, and warnings, and thus could only have been deliberate conduct.”
The lawsuit proposes to cover anyone who received robocalls through the defendants’ telecommunications services within the past four years.