The FCC has proposed a fine of $116,156,250 against one man and three entities in a complex traffic pumping scheme.
The parties are Thomas Dorsher, ChariTel Inc., OnTel Inc., and ScammerBlaster Inc. The FCC alleges that between January 1 and March 2, 2021, Dorsher headed a scheme in which his company, ChariTel Inc., illegally made 9,763,599 prerecorded voice message calls to toll free numbers in order to receive financial compensation.
As the FCC explains in a press release, “When a caller makes a toll free call, the toll free service provider — typically a long distance carrier — pays the caller’s local exchange carrier for originating the call and for performing the toll free database query. The called party — the customer who is assigned the toll free number — . . . compensates the toll free service provider for completing the call.”
According to the FCC, Dorsher apparently had an arrangement with his local exchange carrier (LEC) to share in the revenues that the LEC earned from originating Dorsher’s calls.
Ironically, the calls urged recipients to report spam calls to government regulators, carriers and “ScammerBlaster.” The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau and the Industry Traceback Group traced the calls back to Dorsher and ChariTel.
Dorsher, the FCC says, used the revenue from the traffic pumping scheme to finance a second robocall scheme. In it, his OneTel Inc. entity used telephony denial of service (TDoS) to debilitate telecom systems of those he suspected of making illegal robocalls without adequate verification methods to confirm that this was so, according to the FCC.
The FCC’s action is a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) and contains only the allegations against the four parties and suggests a penalty. The FCC cannot impose a greater penalty than a NAL suggests. The action is not final and the parties will be given the opportunity to respond.
The commission took action against traffic pumping, also known as access arbitrage, back in 2019 and proposed additional rules aimed at preventing it at yesterday’s monthly commission meeting.