If there were a Guinness World Record for robocalls, a Miami man may have set it.
And now he's paying the price.
The FCC has fined Adrian Abramovich $120 million for setting up a program that made nearly 100 million robocalls between 2015 and 2016.
“Abramovich is the perpetrator of one of the largest — and most dangerous — illegal robocalling campaigns that the Commission has ever investigated,” the FCC said in June, when it handed down its citation against him. The fine amount was finalized Thursday.
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Abramovich's scheme involved calling unsuspecting customers with a prerecorded message instructing them to “Press 1” to hear more about an “exclusive” vacation deal offered by a well-known travel or hospitality company, like TripAdvisor, Expedia, Marriott, or Hilton, the FCC said.
They would then be transferred to a call center, where live operators would attempt to sell them one or more “discounted” vacation packages, like timeshares.
On his busiest day, October 19, 2016, Abramovich made 2,121,106 calls. The fewest calls he made on a single week day was 644,051; he averaged over 200,000 calls on Saturdays.
But neither the call center nor Abramovich were affiliated with the well-known brands presented to the customer during the prerecorded message.
TripAdvisor began investigating and eventually triangulated the calls to a single business that had agreements with call centers in Mexico, who were paying Abramovich for traffic. TripAdvisor also contacted the FCC, which used law enforcement techniques to track him down.
Abramovich has formed 12 corporations in Florida over the past two decades, many only existing for one year before being dissolved. In nearly every case, he was the sole director, the FCC said.
It is not clear from the FCC's citation how Abramovich got the numbers that were targets of the robocalls. But in a Senate Committee hearing called by Sen. John Thune in April, Abramovich said robocall software is readily available that allowed him to spoof local numbers to make it more likely customers would pick up.
At the hearing, Abramovich admitted to being behind the calls but denied they had a major impact because many of the calls went unanswered and that he was connecting individuals to "real resorts, offering real vacation packages."
But the FCC alleges the calls disrupted the lives of both individuals and emergency services.
“By overloading this paging network, Abramovich could have delayed vital medical care, making the difference between a patient’s life and death,” the agency said.