CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Tuesday announced the national Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force is enforcing investigations into two voice service providers over alleged involvement in illegal robocalls.
“We must leave no stone unturned in our fight against unlawful robocalls,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “West Virginia remains committed to making progress in combating unlawful robocalls and we will continue to cooperate with other states and national agencies to stop these illegal and obnoxious scam calls.”
The targets of the National Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force investigation are Michael Lansky LLC — doing business as Avid Telecom — and One Eye LLC. The national task force is enforcing civil investigative demands (CIDs) against each entity.
The enforcement action against Avid Telecom details several instances in which the task force believes Avid Telecom knowingly accepted and routed illegal robocalls. Further, the task force believes Michael Lansky, Avid Telecom’s CEO, helped another telecom provider hide its suspect traffic.
The enforcement action against One Eye details how an individual named Prince Anand closed another voice service provider, PZ Telecommunication LLC, and became the apparent CEO of One Eye. This transition occurred after the Federal Communications Commission sent PZ Telecom a cease-and-desist letter.
Avid has refused to answer the CID and One Eye has stopped responding to the task force.
Fifty-one attorneys general participate in the national task force.
“By joining forces, I believe our coalition can achieve success in fighting illegal robocalls, work with the telecom companies and produce real results to quell these intrusions,” Attorney General Morrisey said.
The task force, through evidence detailed in the enforcement actions, believes it has a reasonable basis for investigating Avid Telecom and One Eye.
Attorney General Morrisey has repeatedly demonstrated his office is committed to stopping illegal and unwanted calls. He initiated discussions in 2019 with several phone companies in an effort to gain their commitment to expedite the deployment of scam blocking technology.
A short time later, he joined attorneys general from every state in reaching a bipartisan, public-private agreement that resulted in several phone companies adopting eight principles to fight illegal robocalls. The pact protects consumers and makes it easier for attorneys general and law enforcement to investigate and prosecute bad actors.
Attorney General Morrisey also successfully called upon Congress to pass the TRACED Act, legislation that enables states, federal regulators and telecom providers to take steps to combat the unlawful calls.
According to the National Consumer Law Center and Electronic Privacy Information Center, more than 33 million scam robocalls are made to Americans every day. These scam calls include fraudsters posing as the Social Security Administration, Amazon and employers offering work opportunities.
Fraudsters stole an estimated $29.8 billion through scam calls in 2021. The task force is focused on shutting down the gateways that profit off this illegal scam traffic.
Attorney General Morrisey offers the following tips to avoid scams and unwanted calls:
- Be wary of callers who specifically ask you to pay by gift card, wire transfer or cryptocurrency. For example, the Internal Revenue Service does not accept iTunes gift cards.
- Look out for prerecorded calls from imposters posing as government agencies. Typically, the Social Security Administration does not make phone calls to individuals.
- If you suspect fraudulent activity, immediately hang up and do not provide any personal information.
- Contact the office’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or file a complaint at www.ago.wv.gov.