The lawsuit says the robocalls scammed elderly Americans and others into considerable financial losses.
According to the lawsuit, most calls originated in India, via voice over internet protocol (VOIP), using internet connections rather than traditional copper phone lines.
The companies named as defendants include Tollfreedeals.com, Global Voicecom Inc., Global Telecommunication Services Inc and KAT Telecom Inc, and the lawsuit states that they preyed upon vulnerable victims with the robocalls. U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue, who oversees the Eastern District of New York office, is seeking temporary restraining orders to block such calls in the future.
The companies did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters.
The calls were said to have falsely threatened victims with the elimination of their social security benefits, arrest for tax fraud and deportation for not filling out immigration forms correctly, among other things, if the victims did not pay.
The court filing says that perpetrators committed the robocalls and defrauded Americans with “VOIP technology that was little more than off the shelf, an autodialer and relationships with gateway carrier companies.” Court documents allege that Tollfreedeals.com carried 720 million calls over a 23-day period. Because more than 425 million lasted less than a second, the court deduced them to be robocalls.
U.S. President Donald Trump recently signed a measure that would crack down on the number of robocalls Americans are pestered with daily.
Robocalls are considered to be a serious problem in the U.S., as the Federal Trade Commission received nearly 400,000 complaints in 2019, including impostor fraud claims of $152.9 million. But many do not even report losses in this way, so the Justice Department thinks the numbers are lower than the actual reality. Low arrest numbers and penalty fines haven’t managed to address the problem in the past, either.