FCC Proposes $116 Million Fine for Scheme Mixing Robocalling, Traffic Pumping, and Attacks on Phone Systems

In its latest salvo to combat illegal robocalling, the FCC proposed a $116 million fine for an alleged scheme mixing robocalling with traffic pumping to fund telephone denial of service attacks (TDoS) against other companies.  In the Matter of Thomas Dorsher, ChariTel Inc., Ontel Inc., and ScammerBlaster Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability, FCC 22-57 (rel. July 14, 2022).  The alleged scheme at issue involved Thomas Dorsher, ChariTel Inc., Ontel Inc., and ScammerBlaster Inc.

As the FCC described it, in a two-month period at the start of 2021, ChariTel made about 10 million prerecorded voice message calls (robocalls) to toll free numbers without the recipients’ consent.  If the recipient did not terminate the call, these robocalls would play the prerecorded message continuously for up to 10 hours, effectively taking a line out of service and costing the toll free service provider an opportunity to talk to actual customers on that line.  Ironically, the robocalls at issue purported to be public service announcements to warn against scam calls, and encouraged recipients to report such calls.

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