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Do you have one of those massive white boards that takes up the entire wall of your conference room? You may need it to follow the machinations that multiple defendants allegedly engaged in so they could bombard consumers with robocalls by the billions. (Yes, that’s with a “b.”) The FTC has gone to court to put a stop to their illegal activities.

Filed in federal court in California, the FTC lawsuit alleges that defendant James Christiano and companies he controls operate TelWeb, a dialing platform with the capacity to blast people with a staggering number of robocalls. In fact, calls made with TelWeb have been so pervasive that they’ve been an issue in no fewer than eight previous FTC law enforcement actions. Take out a marker to draw some connectors on your white board because several of the names mentioned in the FTC complaint have cropped up before. For example, according to the lawsuit, Christiano is a long-time business associate of Aaron Michael Jones. That name should ring a bell with FTC watchers because Jones is a recidivist robocaller who was banned from the industry as part of a $2.7 million default judgment in 2017 and has been sued again in 2018 for deceptive practices related to robocalls targeting small business owners.

The FTC alleges that a Christiano-controlled company, NetDotSolutions, licensed software to Jones – which he resold to his clients – that allowed them to place robocalls pitching everything from home security systems to car warranties to purported debt relief services. According to the complaint, most (if not all) telemarketing calls made using Christiano’s TelWeb platform flowed through Jones and his business partners as resellers. One of those business partners is a guy named Andrew Salisbury, named in this action as a defendant. Then there’s TeraMESH Networks, a company the FTC says leased computer server rack space to Jones that enabled him to host, maintain, and update the TelWeb software.

In addition to his role in Jones’s robocalling ring, the FTC says defendant Salisbury is president and part owner of World Connection, a call center outfit that enters the picture when consumers “press 1” in response to a robocall. The complaint alleges that millions of calls that were transferred to World Connection after a consumer pressed 1 used “neighbor spoofing” – an illegal technique that falsifies the caller ID number to make it look like the call is coming from the consumer’s area. According to the FTC, to facilitate the operation, World Connection and its clients often turned to a fellow named Justin Ramsey. Time to draw another connection because Ramsey – another recidivist robocaller – settled a lawsuit with the FTC in 2017 and is named as a defendant in an action filed in 2018. Who is Ramsey’s co-defendant in that pending case? Aaron Michael Jones.

Flow charts and corporate structures aside, the FTC says the upshot was that consumers – many of whom are on the National Do Not Call Registry – have been targeted with more than a billion illegal robocalls each year. The complaint charges Christiano, NetDotSolutions, and TeraMESH with assisting and facilitating: 1) illegal robocalls, 2) calls to number on the Do Not Call Registry, 3) calls with spoofed caller ID numbers, and 4) abandoned calls that occurred when the TelWeb system hung up on consumers who answered.

Keep those markers out because there’s more for the white board. The lawsuit also charges that Salisbury and three companies related to World Connection initiated or caused the initiation of illegal robocalls, calls to numbers on the DNC Registry, and calls with spoofed caller IDs. The FTC is seeking a court order to stop the defendants’ illegal conduct and impose civil penalties.

The case was just filed, but it’s a good reminder that the Telemarketing Sale Rule prohibits pretty much all commercial robocalls unless consumers have given their express written consent to get those calls.

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June 19, 2018
Thank you. This is a relief as I am a small business owner whom has had this practice of robocalling occur to me and some how they have ascertained my wife's number as well and have continuously harassed us. Thank you!!
Bob Fair
June 19, 2018
I am proud to be Lesley's brother and thank her for the great work she has performed looking out for the interests of the American public over the years.
June 20, 2018

In reply to by Bob Fair

Thank you, Bob, for your kind words, which I’ll convey to the attorneys who filed this case. And thank you, too, for demonstrating – perhaps unintentionally – how easy it is to clearly disclose that a comment is from a person who has what we call a “material connection.”  :-)

Anthony Nobilio
June 26, 2018

In reply to by Bob Fair

Amen, but one person or one company/agency can only do so much.
July 10, 2018

In reply to by Bob Fair

Lesley is one of our agency's treasures -- we love having her as our colleague!
June 19, 2018
With at least twelve calls in the past 48hours and not less than 5 today through 2:00PM - all of which had no one no line just blank =- this must be from robo callers. My number is not listed, not available and is on the Federal do Not Call List. Just had another call while doing this comment.
Jerome Schindler
June 19, 2018
A Court order didn’t seem to have much impact before. This time huge fines and multi-year jail sentences are more appropriate. Robocall equipment should be treated like gun silencers with federal registration required, and a substantial licensing fee even for legitamiite users. By the way, just got another robocall from Rachel at Cardholder Services. And yesterday from a medical brace supplier. It has been a slow week so far. Ususllyngatbabout 6 illegal calls a day.
Phillip Buonomo
June 20, 2018
I will believe it when I see results. These offenders are based out of the country and once caught simply create a new company and start over.
June 20, 2018
It would appear the only thing these guys would understand is jail time and a fine, a huge one.Because it appears they do not have to follow the laws of the land after reprimands, judgement, etc. If by some miracle they go to jail don't let them near a computer or a phone.
June 23, 2018
I consistently get calls from robocalls trying to get me health insurance (I'm a senior and a disabled Vet), google listing calls have slowed down, captial money loans, and others. I used to press 2 or type STOP but they still continued. I now wait to be connected and tell the "friendly" person to remove me, put me on their DO NOT CALL LIST and I will start a class acton lawsuit if they continue to call. Every single day I get three or four of these calls. I own a small business and it is annoying. Sometimes I answer the phone and don't say a word waiting for the person on the other end to speak. The phone just usually hangs up. Will be glad, the CREATOR willing, when all of this stops.
Anthony Nobilio
June 26, 2018
I can only hope the FTC can do something to stop these calls. I'm hoping the communications companies will jump on board to help reign in this practice.
Connie Vanpatten
July 03, 2018
I receeived 26 robo calls last saturday beginning 830AM. No Robo blocker did little other than stop the call after one ring. So now they are hang up which are just as annoying . My Verizo service rep pretty much mocked me when i asked if their company provided any protection against his and compared it to junk mail, that they have no way of inteiening. I haveerased all the calls but whenn they start up again, plan to take a picture of my caller ID log and send to your agency. Whyshould I have to have my phone disconnected because these people are allowed to harass me and others? No one wants these calls!
Christy Lester
August 01, 2018

In reply to by Connie Vanpatten

I had the same happen to me last weekend. I have a list of phone numbers since I have too many to block. Ive had to change my phone to not accept numbers unless they press a button to get the call thru.
Nicole Franklin
July 04, 2018
I don't understand why consumers continue to receive (and complain about) unwanted calls when blocking options are available. Take advantage of these services and stop expecting the government to solve all of your first-world problems. Watch MSNBC one time, and you'll see there are way worse things to worry about than robocalls.
July 20, 2018

In reply to by Nicole Franklin

Not so fast. I live in an area where there are only two choices for landlines-and I have to have one in addition to a cell. Because of the area where I live, none of the providers support blockers such as "Nomorobo", although one (not mine) is in the process of implementing it. So it's not that simple. And when the phone company sells your info to SuperPages and these scumbags get hold of it, why should you have to pay more for an unlisted number? The phone company (according to a Verizon supervisor I spoke with) sells your info to SuperPages, then charges you more to escape these idiots. For people who work at home, this is a problem. Yes, there are more serious things going on in the world, but I'm not going to minimize others' problems. An example-I've currently got an injury, and walking is difficult. Every time one of these jerks call, I get up to answer the phone, and there's risk involved there. The disabled and elderly are in the same boat.
September 22, 2018

In reply to by Nicole Franklin

I personally don't believe that blocking is effective as a measure against robocalling. The computers can simply make more calls/second when more lines are blocked. Robocalls can handle these billions of calls documented here as the vast majority of people called are not available, block, don't answer, or hangup. The robocalling hardware/software is designed explicitly to make more calls in response to this - with the goal of insuring just enough calls are made to keep their human "agents" / "sales people" / etc busy. This is why despite the number of people not answering and blocking, the number of calls and complaints continues to go up. I advocate answering and pressing what every number needed to transfer to a human agent. The computers can place billions of calls, but they can't handle billions of transfers - they don't have near enough human agents to do that. The more calls they get of people answering and complaining, the fewer calls where people buy something can get through.
September 06, 2018
I get so many each day it is ridiculous. Today they even used our own phone number. I have a call blocker and Hiya and that helps i wish i could get paid for all the illegal calls because my numbers are on the Do not call list. That doesn't stop them. I would be a multimillionaire. When they fine these people we need to be compensated for our aggravation.
September 26, 2018
I get lots of these calls Please lock them up because fines don't work. they got more money than they know what to do with
October 29, 2018
About the only fool proof way is to create some kind of either captcha service or and additional PIN to give out with phone number, that should disable the ability of most robocallers, notwithstanding some robocalls are desirable (school, emergency, pharmacy etc) this is the 21st century the technology cant be that complicated it s a matter of forcing our telephone companies to make it available
Bright Idea
November 16, 2018
Medical Braces? I think they'd better Brace Themselves, for some legal action, once "spoofing" is finally deemed illegal. And that's long overdue.
November 20, 2018
We need to start jailing these pieces of crap a couple million is chump change compared to the billions that they're scamming from the public, and the neighbor spoofing junk is still happening!
Dee Sigvertsen
February 12, 2019
This is STILL happening today! To consumers now! I get 10+ calls each day from the same robo caller using my local area code 612 with a 326 or simular 3.. Number!!! No matter how many times i have complained to them or asked them to STOP CALLING ME TAKE ME OFF YOUR CALL LIST. EVEN IF I BLOCK THEM THEY JUST CHANGE TO ANOTHER 612 3.. PHONE NUMBER! ITS INSANE! WHAT CAN SOMEONE DO???
Donna Sykes
February 12, 2019
My phone rings 24 nonstop and it just don’t make no sense at all and some how they got my husband cell number and they want stop and I have our number on the do not call and it didn’t do any good at all. We have not gave our numbers out to anyone period tired of our phones ringing I really am.
Monica Messer
February 13, 2019
They are still in daily business on Riverview, FL phones. I get several robocalls/day, 5-6 days/week that are being spoofed to local private and business numbers that do not display an area code. It's the old Medicare Medical-Grade Brace scam. The spoofed numbers change with every call. I have reported it via the FTC website but my guess is the scammers will be very difficult to track.
February 13, 2019
I too get these calls 24/7. I don't know why they think I need a medical brace and why they think non-stop calls will persuade me to buy one! Company claims to be Medicare Assistance Services out of New York. I asked them to take me off their list and he said "good luck" and hung up.
Holly Jeppesen
February 14, 2019
I am getting at least a dozen calls a day. I have blocked them, pushed the corresponding number to "opt" out of calls and they continue! Today I pushed to be connected with a person who quickly asked me if I needed health insurance and when I nicely stated "No" and was in the process of telling him that I was on the "do not call list' when he hung up on me! I am beyond my limit for this intrusion everyday! What can we do? Can we join a law suit? Get an attorney of our own?
L. London
February 18, 2019
Ditto to many of the above comments. We have been on the DO Not Call registry for years and I have verified that we are still on the list. Today I received a call which CID showed as my bank "Wells Fargo" and when it turned out to be someone from Smart Home Solar. I reported this to the Do Not Call site but have little hope this will lead to anything. I am so annoyed by the ongoing calls offering, among other things, a medical brace. I use Call Block on my phone, and Verizon often identifies incoming calls as potential spam, but it's not enough. Need more of a crackdown from the government.
February 18, 2019
I put them on my home phone “call block” list and that usually rings once and shows “call blocked” but as previously stated they seem to have an unlimited batch of phone numbers to call from and what’s worse my home phone “block call” is now full and I can’t block anymore. Lots are the “back brace” scam but lots are “disabled police or firefighters” also “veterans” I used to get lots from “windows technical support” claiming they are “getting error messages” and if I will just turn my computer on they will fix it (yeah right) ..... also now lots are about “free solar” etc. ..... I guess there’s no stopping it since if they get one sucker every thousand calls it works for them. ......the “do not call” list is a joke.
phyllis s
February 20, 2019
We get these calls 5-6 times a day every day.
A Butler
February 21, 2019
I've been getting the 'medical back brace' calls for months; at least one time daily on my cell phone & land line. It does no good to block the caller because the scammer uses fake numbers.
March 19, 2019
Non stop 3-5 calls a day. I've asked to be removed several times. I tried to speak to a rep to verbally ask to remove me from the list and the rep hung up on me twice.
March 21, 2019
Is there anything that can be done to stop this? I've been getting these calls for the last 6 months at least. Blocking and reporting the number on my Verizon phone seems to work for a week before they move on to the next number and it starts over.
March 21, 2019
They call my landline multiple times every day, and are always spoofed numbers. I block them manually for each call, so they can't re-euse that number. My cellphone is set to only receive calls from people I kow. They are so blatant that the first time I blocked them, the following call a minute later had a caller id that simply said NO, as if to say, "no, you can't get off that easy" These people are unforgiving. Pretty soon I'll just terminate my land line as it serves no more purpose than a harrassment hotline.
Death knocking…
March 21, 2019
If someone can find the call center please post the address for the back brace I will do what the government cant do. I just need an address before the cost me my job.
Linnea K McCrary
March 22, 2019
I'm getting them on my cell phone from 3 different outfits. Same MO, I'm on the DNC list. They wake me up every morning. Ruin my sleep and consequently my day. I have blocked them but they seem to have an unlimited supply of phone numbers. This is ridiculous. I want it stopped and would love to receive cash from all that they have ruined.
Melissa P
March 27, 2019
When does the FTC expect this to end? This medical grade brace call is driving me up the wall. Not only are they spoofing numbers so that I will answer, apparently my number has been used as well because the amount of phone calls I get from strangers saying "I just missed a call from this number" is ridiculous. What can we do as people being harassed by this?
March 29, 2019
I am getting up to 15 robo calls a day at our business from different fake for these braces. Sometimes they will rapid fire and call all of our lines at once. We are on the Do not call list. I am filing a complaint with the FCC right now. I do not know if it will do any good,
April 01, 2019
We can all complain, but what we really need to do is force our government officials to stop this. They are all taking campaign funds from Silicon Valley companies, let those geniuses fix it. And while they are at it they can stop this daylight savings time trash we go through twice a year.
April 05, 2019
People forget the Do Not Call list concept. Lawbreakers aren't going to suddenly obey laws. It's magical thinking, like imagining posting a Drug Free Zone sign in your neighborhood makes all the drugs go away. If you can, get NomoRobo for your landline. That's the only thing that has MOSTLY worked and I'm still getting spoofed local calls for the medical brace scam (hm, these started right after signing up for Medicaid in my state...makes you wonder if the state government is selling your info).
June 03, 2019
I get these calls at least once p times a day call about medical supplies going back to school even numbers that’s says they calling from Peru and I know better. My husband getting calls also and sometimes I answer it’s just silence on the other end wish they would stop
June 21, 2019
I am a private citizen henry see you between 2 to 300 Robo calls per day I have got numerous applications on my cell phone which intercept most of them but there are a few they get through and they all leave misleading and unlawful messages on my text messaging and my voicemail as well. This Robo call any illegal phone spoofing must stop and the people responsible for need to be put in prison preferably for life.

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