On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued Florida-based VoIP Terminator Inc., Virginia-based BLMarketing, Inc., and the companies’ owner Muhammad Usman Kahn for violating the agency’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) by purportedly blasting Americas with millions of robocalls. According to the FTC’s press release, the enforcement action is the agency’s third in two years against a VoIP service provider.x`
The complaint, filed in the Middle District of Florida, alleges that the defendants assisted and facilitated in the transmission of millions of illegal pre-recorded telemarketing robocalls, including those they knew or should have known were scams, to consumers around the country.
The lawsuit specified that between July 2019 to December 2020, USTelecom sent the defendants traceback notices for 70 unlawful telemarketing campaigns. Those flagged included illegal robocalling campaigns involving “credit card interest rate reduction, tech support scams, and COVID-related air duct cleaning, among others.”
The FTC explained that the defendants continued to provide VoIP services notwithstanding their knowledge or conscious avoidance thereof that customers were using the services to place calls to numbers on the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry, placing calls with pre-recorded messages, and displaying spoofed caller ID services to callers.
Reportedly, many of the calls also originated overseas. The FTC said that companies like VoIP Terminator are responsible for acting as a gatekeeper to prevent such calls from entering the country, yet in this case, it ignored that responsibility.
The Department of Justice filed the complaint on the FTC’s behalf and with the pleading, an order permanently stopping the defendants from engaging in further such illegal conduct. The proposed consent order also includes a civil penalty of $3.26 million, though that has been suspended due to the defendants’ inability to pay.