Maryland top prosecutor joins lawsuit against robocall company
Wed, May 24, 2023 1:41 PM
By By Sarah Roderick-Fitch | The Center Square, The Center Square
(The Center Square) – Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown has joined a nationwide lawsuit against Avid Telecom for “violating” the Telephone Consumer Protection Act for allegedly “facilitating billions of illegal robocalls.”
Brown has joined a bipartisan coalition of 48 attorneys general from across the country in filing the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.
The legal complaint was filed against Michael D. Lansky, LLC, under the business name Avid Telecom, a voice over internet protocol company that sells data, phone numbers and dialing software to assist clients in producing mass robocalls. Also named are the company’s owner Michael Lansky and Vice President Stacey Reeves.
The suit accuses the business trio of violating multiple state and federal consumer laws, including the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Maryland Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
The lawsuit says between December 2018 and January 2023, Avid transmitted over 24.5 billion robocalls, with 90% of the calls lasting less than 15 seconds – indicating likely robocalls. Brown’s office says the company serves as an intermediate provider for VoIP robocalls and “facilitated or helped route illegal robocalls across the country.”
The company is accused of assisting “hundreds of millions of calls” utilizing spoofed or invalid caller ID numbers. The complaint says the company spoofed over 8.4 million calls, which appeared to be from private companies, government and law enforcement agencies.
In addition, the complaint says over 7.5 billion of the calls transmitted were made to numbers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry.
According to the suit, the company transmitted scam calls regarding the Social Security Administration, Medicare, auto warranties, and employment scams, among several others.
A USTelecom-led Industry Traceback group, which contacts companies regarding suspected illegal robocalls sent through their networks, alerted Avid Telecom at least 329 times that the company was transmitting the calls. The group says Avid Telecom continued the calls despite the notifications.
“We cannot allow fraudulent robocallers to invade homes, disrupt lives, and violate the trust of Marylanders,” Brown said.
The prosecutors say Avid Telecom disregarded complaints regarding their screening process and "chose profit over running a business that conforms to state and federal law.”
The group of prosecutors say the company chose not to adopt procedures to prevent illegal practices.
"Defendants could have chosen to implement effective and meaningful procedures to prevent – or even significantly mitigate – the perpetration of illegal behavior onto and across Avid Telecom’s network but chose not to do so," according to the complaint.
The legal action stems from the nationwide Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force comprised of 51 attorneys general. The Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General assisted in the investigation.
“This lawsuit is a significant step towards stopping these illegal robocalls and preventing bad actors from defrauding Marylanders of their personal information and their hard-earned money by deceiving them into picking up their phones,” said Brown.
Avid Telecom denied the allegations presented in the lawsuit and will "defend itself vigorously and vindicate its rights and reputation through the legal process," according to a statement.
"Contrary to the allegations in the complaint, Avid Telecom operates in a manner that is compliant with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations,” the statement read.
“The company has never been found by any court or regulatory authority to have transmitted unlawful traffic and it is prepared to meet with the attorneys general, as it has on many occasions in the past, to further demonstrate its good faith and lawful conduct."