The Federal Communications Commission issued a $116.2 million fine against a group responsible for nearly 10 million robocalls to toll-free numbers.
ScammerBlaster, OnTel, ChariTel, and Thomas Dorsher, known collectively as Dorsher Enterprise, are behind the illegal calls, the agency said today.
The group presented itself as an anti-robocall campaign but was actually conducting a scam of its own. Drosher Enterprise made millions of prerecorded calls to toll-free numbers “ranting” about the dangers of fraudulent calls and directing people to report such calls to government officials, regulators, telephone carriers, and ScammerBlaster.
By targeting toll-free numbers, the robocallers racked up millions in dialing fees for each call. When a call is made to a toll-free number, the recipient compensates its provider for connecting the call, and in turn, such services pay Dorsher Enterprise for connecting it.
Local carriers collecting fees generated from the illegal calls shared the profits via credits with Dorsher Enterprise.
“The Dorsher Enterprise used the credits generated from robocalling toll-free numbers to fund telephony denial of service (TDoS) attacks on other entities,” said the FCC.
In 2021, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau found that Dorsher Enterprise conducted 9.8 million unapproved prerecorded voice message calls over two months to toll-free numbers. The Industry Traceback Group traced the calls to Dorsher and ChariTel. An FCC investigation found OnTel and ScammerBlaster were involved as well.
“The law expressly prohibits robocalls made to recipients who are charged for the call – such as subscribers to toll-free numbers – unless the caller has prior express consent or there is an emergency purpose,” the FCC said. In November 2022, a federal grand jury indicted Dorsher and other groups in several federal criminal counts due to the TDoS attacks. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency says such attacks overwhelm communication networks, which can disrupt emergency services such as 911 call centers.