AG Ellison joins lawsuit against Avid Telecom over billions of illegal robocalls

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has joined 48 states and the District of Columbia in filing a lawsuit against Avid Telecom, claiming the company made billions of illegal robocalls.

The owner of Avid Telecom, Michael D. Lansky, and its vice president, Stacey S. Reeves, allegedly initiated the robocalls that violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule and other federal telemarketing and consumer laws, Ellison’s office says.

According to a news release, the company sent or transmitted more than 7.5 billion calls to phone numbers on the national do not call registry. Ellison and the coalition allege that this included at least 14,395 calls into Minnesota.

“Everybody hates robocalls — and everybody gets them, including me. Minnesotans file more complaints about robocalls with our office than about any other single problem — but because it’s hard for states acting alone to make a dent in them, I joined this bipartisan, nationwide task force so we can tackle this scourge together,” Ellison said. “This lawsuit is our first, and it won’t be our last. Together, we’re taking the fight directly to anyone in the telecom industry who helps robocallers and scammers perpetrate their fraud on the public.”

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

The press release states that between December 2018 and January 2023, the company sent or attempted to send more than 24.5 billion calls, and used spoofed or invalid caller ID numbers, including more than 8.4 million calls that appeared to come from private companies and government and law enforcement agencies.

In addition, the company allegedly sent calls from scammers claiming to be with the Social Security Administration, Medicare, auto warranty companies, Amazon, DirecTV and credit card companies offering reduced interest rates.

The USTelecom-led Industry Traceback Group, which notifies providers about suspected illegal robocalls sent across their networks, sent at least 329 notifications to Avid that it was transmitting these calls, but the company continued to send them, Ellison’s office says.

Attorney General Ellison encourages Minnesotans who have received scam robocalls to contact or file a complaint with his office at 651-296-3353 (Metro area), 800-657-3787 (Greater Minnesota) or online.

In August 2022, Ellison joined the Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force, which includes 51 attorney generals nationwide. The task force is investigating and taking legal action against the people responsible for routing illegal robocalls into and across the United States.