FCC Takes on Mortgage Scam Robocall Campaign Targeting Homeowners

On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ordered telecommunications companies to refuse suspected illegal traffic from dialing platform PhoneBurner, which reportedly facilitated mortgage relief robocalls often targeting distressed homeowners from real estate brokerage firm MV Realty.

In addition to the public notice, the FCC sent a cease-and-desist letter to Twilio, the network that carried the illegal calls around the country and, to date, the largest voice service provider to receive such a warning from the FCC.

The news came in conjunction with announcements from the attorneys general of Florida, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, who found that Florida-based MV Realty used robocalls to scam residents into mortgaging their homes in exchange for cash payments.

According to Florida’s investigation, MV offered homeowners between $300 and $5,000 as a cash loan in exchange for an agreement to use the company as an exclusive listing broker. Hidden in the terms of MV’s contracts were 40-year exclusive rights on properties requiring the owners to pay 3% of the value of the home to MV, regardless of whether the company ever provides any real estate listing services. 

Lawsuits filed by the attorneys general allege that MV uses unfair and deceptive marketing and sales tactics to hide the true terms of the contract, effectively a loan, and uses illegal methods for securing its rights under the contracts, including mortgaging homeowners’ properties.

The FCC, targeting dialing platform PhoneBurner and service provider Twilio rather than MV itself, found that between May and early December 2022 robocalls were made to wireless numbers without the consent of targeted consumers. The FCC’s investigation found that though Twilio responded that PhoneBurner had obtained called parties’ consent, neither Twilio nor PhoneBurner provided evidence of that consent.