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National Sweep Cracks Down on Nearly 100 Scam Call Operations

National Sweep Cracks Down on Nearly 100 Scam Call Operations

Bill Stephens

June 25th, 2019

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Tips provided to help Kentuckians avoid, block scam calls

FRANKFORT, KY. (June 25, 2019) – Attorney General Andy Beshear, a coalition of attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a national sweep today cracking down on illegal scam call operations.

The joint effort, “Operation Call it Quits,” includes federal, state and local enforcement actions against more than 94 illegal scam call operations across the U.S. and an educational campaign to help citizens stop unwanted calls.

“Nearly 100 scam call operations from across the country, which are responsible for more than 1 billion scam calls, have now had law enforcement actions taken against them and are being shut down,” said Beshear. “Today is a victory for Kentuckians who want to see more being done to stop the barrage of illegal scam calls.”

The operation includes four new cases and three new settlements from the FTC, bringing the FTC’s total actions against illegal robocallers and Do Not Call (DNC) Registry violators to 145, and 87 enforcement actions from other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. 

As part of the operation, the Office of the Attorney General is providing tips to help Kentuckians properly respond to and avoid scam calls. Beshear said educating consumers, especially seniors, about robocall scams is the most effective way to protect Kentuckians from falling victim to scams. The tips include:

·         Don’t Trust Caller ID

Scammers may call from out-of-state, but use technology to “spoof” local phone numbers to try and trick Kentuckians into answering.

·         Don’t Answer

The best way to avoid scams and robocalls is to not answer calls from unknown phone numbers. If it is important, the caller will leave a message and you can call them back.

·         Hang up on Prerecorded Messages

If you do answer the phone and hear a prerecorded message, hang up; it is likely a scam call. If you press any numbers or participate in the call in any way, you might become a target for more calls.

·         Use Call-Blocking Technology

Call-blocking technology offered through your phone carrier, internet service provider, call-blocking devices or downloadable apps can help stop most scam calls. 

Kentuckians can also watch videos from the FTC to learn more about how to stop unwanted calls on mobile and landline phones, as well as how to stop calls from fake numbers.

The new FTC complaints announced Tuesday include allegations against:

First Choice Horizon LLC – The defendants are accused of running a maze of interrelated operations that used illegal robocalls to contact financially distressed consumers with offers of bogus credit card interest rate reduction services. The case is pending in a Florida court, where company assets have been frozen and a receiver appointed. 

8 Figure Dream Lifestyle – The defendants are allegedly using a combination of illegal telemarketing robocalls, live telephone calls, text messaging, internet ads, emails, social media and live events to market and sell consumers fraudulent money-making opportunities. A California court granted the FTC’s request for a restraining order, including an asset freeze.

Derek Jason Bartoli – The FTC’s complaint alleges Bartoli is the developer and provider of a computer-based telephone-dialing platform, known as an autodialer. He used the autodialer to blast out millions of illegal robocalls and calls to numbers listed on the DNC Registry. The complaint claims Bartoli, in the last six months of 2017 alone, sent over 57 million calls and initiated millions of calls using spoofed caller IDs. The proposed court order settling the charges bans Bartoli from illegal robocall practices and imposes a $2.1 million civil penalty, which has been suspended.

Media Mix 365, LLC – The complaint alleges the company and its owners made illegal calls to develop leads for home solar energy companies. The defendants allegedly called one number more than 1,000 times in a single year. The proposed court order settling the charges permanently bans the defendants, Nicholas and Nicole Long, from calling phone numbers listed on the DNC Registry and from robocalling. The order imposes a $7.6 million civil penalty, which will be suspended upon payment of $264,000.

Since taking office Beshear has made protecting families from scammers one of his top priorities. Earlier this year, Beshear’s office met with FTC representatives to discuss new ways to stop scammers.

In March, Beshear and 53 state attorneys general sent a letter to the U.S. Senate urging lawmakers to enact legislation to curb illegal scam robocalls and caller ID spoofing. The proposed act would require voice service providers to participate in a call authentication framework, which would aid in blocking unwanted calls, reduce scam calls and help hold those who barrage Kentuckians with robocalls accountable.

In January, Beshear sent a letter to Rep. Kevin D. Bratcher of Louisville, supporting his legislation – House Bill 84 – which aims to combat scam callers who spoof Kentucky phone numbers. The bill was signed into law and takes effect Thursday, June 27.

When Kentuckians fall victim to scams and bad business practices, Beshear’s office is there to help them recover. Beshear’s administration has returned more than $2.1 million to Kentuckians, averaging nearly $1,679 a day back in the pockets of Kentucky families.

To stay ahead of scammers, Beshear’s office invites Kentuckians to sign up for the Do Not Call Registry, and scam alerts by texting the words KYOAG SCAM to GOV-311 or visiting ag.ky.gov/scams. Beshear said Kentuckians should report scam calls to his office via an online complaint form and to the FTC.

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