New Jersey joins multistate lawsuit over illegal robocalls

Matthew Fazelpoor//May 24, 2023

Laptop and cellphone
Laptop and cellphone

New Jersey joins multistate lawsuit over illegal robocalls

Matthew Fazelpoor//May 24, 2023

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced May 23 that the state joined a multistate lawsuit against Avid Telecom for allegedly initiating and facilitating billions of illegal robocalls.

The complaint, which was signed onto by attorneys general from 48 states and the District of Columbia, was filed against Michael D. Lansky LLC, doing business under Avid Telecom; its owner Michael Lansky; and its vice president Stacey Reeves.

Avid Telecom is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider that sells data, phone numbers, dialing software, and/or expertise to help customers make mass robocalls.

The lawsuit alleges the company sent or transmitted more than 7.5 billion calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry between December 2018 and January 2023, including more than 237 million calls to numbers in the Garden State, violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and other federal and state telemarketing and consumer laws.

Avid is accused of helping make hundreds of millions of calls using spoofed or invalid caller ID numbers, including more than 8.4 million calls that appeared to come from government and law enforcement agencies, as well as private companies. The attorneys general allege that these robocalls included scam calls about Social Security, Medicare, auto warranties, Amazon, DirectTV, credit card interest rate reductions, employment, and more.

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin

“Everyone has experienced robocalls and nobody likes them,” said Platkin in a statement. “Through this complaint, we are cracking down on billions of scam calls and stopping them from continuing to bother our residents.”

The complaint also notes that the USTelecom-led Industry Traceback Group, which notifies providers about known and suspected illegal robocalls sent across their networks, sent at least 329 notifications to Avid that it was transmitting these calls, but alleges the company continued to do so.

Cari Fais, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs

“Unsolicited robocalls are not only annoying, but they also are tools that scammers use to commit fraud,” said Cari Fais, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Joining this complaint shows our commitment to protecting New Jersey residents from unwanted calls and scams.”

In a statement to NJBIZ, Avid Telecom vehemently denied the allegations.

“Avid Telecom is aware of the lawsuit filed by the consortium of Attorneys General. The complaint is predicated on factual allegations that the Attorneys General know, or should know, cannot be sustained as a matter of fact and which do not support the legal claims presented,” Neil Ende, Avid Telecom’s outside legal counsel, told NJBIZ in a statement. “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. 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.”

Ende added that Avid is disappointed that the AGs did not communicate their concerns directly before filing the lawsuit.

“While the company always prefers to work with regulators and law enforcement to address issues of concern, as necessary, the company will defend itself vigorously and vindicate its rights and reputation through the legal process,” said Ende.

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On May 16, Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law the “Seinfeld Bill,” legislation inspired by a scene from the hit sitcom. Find out more (and watch the clip if you’re not familiar) by clicking here.