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AG Nessel Announces Settlement Eliminating Telecom Carrier Responsible for Illegal Robocalls
August 07, 2020
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today announced a settlement agreement requiring a California-based Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) voice service provider, MODOK LLC, to exit the VoIP telecom industry and begin winding down its operations.
This settlement agreement marks the first time a state attorney general has been able to permanently shut down a VoIP service provider and bar its ownership from working in the industry.
The Attorney General’s office used complaints sent to the office by the public to trace illegal robocalls regarding Social Security Administration scams and auto-warranty scams to MODOK LLC, which had allegedly been carrying foreign illegal robocall traffic into the United States and on to Michigan residents. As part of AG Nessel’s Robocall Crackdown Initiative, significant resources are provided to the public through the website, including a complaint form specific to robocalls.
From the outset, AG Nessel’s Robocall Crackdown Initiative prioritized the targeting of VoIP service providers carrying illegal robocalls as these businesses are the major conduits for scammers and others to cheaply and effectively make millions of illegal robocalls within minutes to consumers all over the country.
“Cracking down on such a public nuisance was a promise I made from the start of my tenure,” said Nessel. “And today I am proud to announce that we have successfully put an end to one of the many illegal robocall operations that has targeted Michiganders and people around the country. I want to thank my team for their hard work and for making history with this settlement. Let this serve as a notice to other robocallers or their service providers out there: We will continue to protect Michigan consumers and pursue illegal robocalls to the furthest extent of the law.”
Since its launch in November, the Robocall Crackdown Initiative has made significant progress.
Most recently, Michigan Assistant Attorney General Wisam Naoum was appointed by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to the FCC’s new Hospital Robocall Protection Group, an advisory committee required by Congress to issue best practices to protect hospitals from robocalls. In June, AG Nessel filed a federal lawsuit in Texas alongside six other states for an alleged robocall operation responsible for over a billion illegal robocalls. AG Nessel also joined 51 other attorneys general in encouraging the FCC to facilitate continued collaboration among state attorneys general and telecom companies to coordinate tracing back illegal robocalls to their source through a single FCC-sanctioned industry group. In early May, Nessel also cosponsored a letter—joined by 51 other attorneys general—to USTelecom urging the association to further develop robocall traceback and other tools suited to law enforcement needs.
How to Report a Robocall in Michigan:
The best way to deal with robocalls is to simply hang up or don’t answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number. However, to aid investigators in their efforts to hold robocallers accountable, certain pieces of information are extremely helpful to the department’s efforts to investigate, particularly when submitted to the Attorney General’s office as part of an official complaint:
- Robocaller’s phone number;
- Your phone number and service provider (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc.);
- The date and time of the robocall;
- Whether the robocall was soliciting goods or services; and
- The topic of the robocall scam (e.g. student loans, Social Security numbers, IRS liability, etc.).
Please note: Robocalls to landlines cannot be traced back so any complaints about landline calls cannot be used to further the department’s investigation.