• The suit stems from bipartisan Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force
  • It seeks Avid to pay civil penalties and restitution to plaintiff states
  • The company said it would 'defend itself vigorously through legal process'

Attorney generals from 48 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against a company for allegedly orchestrating billions of illegal robocalls to millions of people.

In the complaint, the attorney generals alleged that Avid Telecom, a Voice over Internet Protocol provider, violated several consumer protection and telemarketing laws, including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Telemarketing Sales Rule. The attorney generals of South Dakota and Alaska did not join the lawsuit, CNBC reported.

The 141-page suit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Arizona, names two Avid executives, CEO Michael Lansky and Vice President of Operations and Sales Stacey Reeves, as defendants. According to the complaint, Avid facilitated more than 24.5 billion spam calls nationwide between December 2018 and January 2023. Out of these, more than 7.5 billion calls were made to telephone numbers currently on the National Do Not Call Registry. More than 90% of these calls lasted less than 15 seconds, suggesting they were robocalls.

The suit stems from the nationwide Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force which was instituted last year. Comprising attorney generals from all 50 states, the task force aims to investigate and prosecute telecommunications companies driving robocall traffic.

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes said nearly 197 million robocalls were made to Arizona phone numbers during the said period.

"Every day, countless Arizona consumers are harassed and annoyed by a relentless barrage of unwanted robocalls — and in some instances these illegal calls threaten consumers with lawsuits and arrest," Mayes said in a statement, adding, "More disturbingly, many of these calls are scams designed to pressure frightened consumers, often senior citizens, into handing over their hard-earned money."

The complaint alleged that the company would sell the phone numbers and other relevant data of users, allowing its clients to make mass robocalls. The clients also spoofed the area codes of their phone numbers to match those of their recipients to ensure they'd pick up.

Several calls facilitated by Avid also included scams from Amazon, the Social Security Administration, Medicare, credit card companies and auto warranties, among others. The company also used spoofed or invalid caller ID numbers, including over 8.4 million calls that seemed like coming from government and law enforcement agencies.

"Americans are sick and tired of their phones ringing off the hook with fraudulent robocalls," New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement, according to NBC5. "Seniors and vulnerable consumers have been scammed out of millions because of these illegal robocalls."

The lawsuit sought a judgment aimed at stopping the telecom company from making and transmitting illegal calls. It also sought Avid to pay civil penalties, damages and restitution to plaintiff states.

A group led by Federal Communications Commission previously sent more than 300 notifications to Avid about the suspected spam, the attorney generals further alleged. However, the company ignored the warnings.

In response, Avid issued a statement, expressing disappointment and noting it would "defend itself vigorously and vindicate its rights and reputation through the legal process."

"Contrary to the allegations in the complaint, Avid Telecom operates in a manner that is compliant with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations," Avid said in the statement. "The company has never been found by any court or regulatory authority to have transmitted unlawful traffic and it is prepared to meet with the Attorneys General, as it has on many occasions in the past, to further demonstrate its good faith and lawful conduct."

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The United States became the second worst country in the world for spam phone calls. Breakingpic/Pexels