Attorney General T.J. Donovan today filed a federal lawsuit against a California-based company, Telecom Carrier Access doing business as TCA VOIP, and its owner, Dominic Bohnett, for knowingly bringing thousands of robocalls into Vermont. The Attorney General’s Office began its investigation after receiving reports of a robocall displaying an 802-area code, impersonating the Social Security Administration. A traceback investigation, conducted with assistance from the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, revealed TCA VOIP to be the source of the call. The complaint alleges that the Defendants violated Vermont’s Consumer Protection Act, as well as other state and federal laws, by knowingly bringing millions of illegal robocalls into the U.S., and thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of illegal robocalls into Vermont, including government imposter and business imposter scams.
“Companies bringing illegal robocalls into Vermont must be stopped,” said Attorney General Donovan. “The lawsuit filed today should serve as notice: My office will continue to investigate and bring charges against companies that are breaking the law and targeting Vermonters.”
“This complaint affirms that the law enforcement community will continue to collaborate to hold responsible the telecommunications companies that continue to allow the influx of robocalls to reach American consumers,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. “My office will remain vigilant in protecting consumers from Social Security-related scams and government imposter calls that prey on vulnerable persons. I thank the Vermont Attorney General’s Office for their consistent commitment to protect the public from these scammers.”
In February 2022, over 3 million robocalls targeted Vermonters. A robocall is a computer-generated phone call that delivers a pre-recorded message (see “Anatomy of a Robocall” infographic). Foreign organized crime syndicates use robocalls to defraud U.S. consumers. These robocalls impersonate U.S. government agencies or businesses. Typically, foreign scammers send robocalls from computers over VoIP services to U.S. consumers’ telephones. These scammers pay U.S.-based VoIP companies, like TCA VOIP, to send their robocalls to U.S. destination numbers.
A national sample of 3,794 tracebacks conducted by USTelecom identified TCA VOIP as the U.S. point of entry for 132 illegal robocall campaigns. In 81 of these 132 tracebacks, TCA VOIP had facilitated government imposter robocalls, most of which involved the Social Security Administration.
As detailed in the complaint, during a two-hour window on a single day in 2021, TCA VOIP attempted over 30,000 calls to Vermont area code 802. During that same two hours, TCA VOIP attempted over 21,000,000 calls across the U.S.
To report scams, complete the Consumer Assistance Program’s online scam reporting form or call 1-800-649-2424. Additional resources on how robocalls work and how to protect yourself from robocalls are available here.
A copy of the complaint and the complaint’s appendix, which includes links to audio recordings of fraudulent calls facilitated by TCA VOIP, are linked.
Update: The complaint was amended with the court on April 13, 2022. A copy of the amended complaint is linked.
Contact: Charity R. Clark, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171