VoIP Carriers Investigated Over Fraudulent Robocalls

An American court has ordered injunctions against two telecom carriers that facilitated hundreds of millions of fraudulent robocalls to consumers in the United States.

The scam calls predominantly targeted elderly and vulnerable people, successfully conning victims out of personal information, money, and property. Many of the robocalls were made by fraudsters overseas impersonating government agencies and conveying alarming messages.

Victims were tricked into thinking that their assets were being frozen, their personal information had been compromised, or their benefits were about to be stopped. 

In some calls, fraudsters impersonated employees at legitimate businesses, including Microsoft. 

The injunctions, which relate to two separate civil actions, are the first of their kind to be obtained by the United States Justice Department. Both orders were issued by the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and both civil actions are pending.

The first injunction bars husband and wife Nicholas and Natasha Palumbo and two entities from operating as intermediate voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) carriers. 

The Palumbos, of Scottsdale, Arizona, own and operate Ecommerce National LLC and SIP Retail, which do business as TollFreeDeals.com and sipretail.com, respectively. The couple are currently being investigated for what the District Court described as “widespread patterns of telecommunications fraud, intended to deprive call recipients in the Eastern District of New York and elsewhere of money and property.”

The court noted that though the Palumbos had been warned more than 100 times of specific instances of fraudulent calls' being transmitted through their network, they never severed their business relationship with any entity they learned was associated with fraudulent call traffic.

In the second matter, the court entered consent decrees that permanently bar New York resident John Kahen, aka Jon Kaen, and three entities—Global Voicecom Inc, Global Telecommunication Services Inc., and KAT Telecom Inc.—from operating as intermediate VoIP carriers conveying any telephone calls into the US telephone system.

“These massive robocall fraud schemes target telephones of residents across our country, many of whom are elderly or are otherwise potentially vulnerable to such schemes,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division.

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