On May 6, 2021

State settles with scam robocall carrier

New robocall team formed to stop scams to Vermont phones

Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced April 28 a settlement with a small Florida-based company that routed thousands of foreign scam robocalls to Vermonters. The Attorney General investigated the company—Strategic IT Partner—after reports of scam robocalls to the Vermont Consumer Assistance Program (CAP). The settlement will prevent Strategic IT Partner from bringing any robocalls into the U.S. from abroad unless the company first verifies they are wholly legitimate. 

The attorney general also announced the formation of a robocall team to assist in the office’s ongoing efforts to combat scam calls in Vermont.

“No U.S.-based phone company has ever been required to protect against illegal foreign call traffic so thoroughly,” said Attorney General Donovan. “But let me be clear: This is far from the end to scam robocalls, unfortunately. Dozens of U.S.-based companies carry illegal robocalls into the country by the millions every day. I am committed to continuing to identify those companies and confronting them. I want to thank the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General for their support and collaboration.”

In October 2020, thousands of Vermonters received the same fraudulent robocall impersonating the Social Security Administration. In response to scam reports received by CAP, the attorney general traced these calls back to the Florida company, Strategic IT Partner — an “interconnect” carrier that routed fraudulent calls from a source in India to Vermont.

“This settlement represents a stern warning to U.S. telecommunications companies responsible for routing scam robocalls impersonating the Social Security Administration and passing these scam calls to customers within the U.S. Such telecommunications companies have a responsibility to American consumers and will be held accountable for irresponsibly enabling foreign-based companies from preying on the public,” said Gail S. Ennis, inspector general for the Social Security Administration. “I commend the Vermont Attorney General and his office for their aggressive and innovative efforts to protect Vermonters from Social Security-related scam calls. My office will continue to collaborate with Federal and state entities to combat this problem from every angle.”

Courtesy of Attorney General T.J. Donovan
Anatomy of a robocall shows how rococallers can easily and cheaply get your number.

In March 2021, approximately 5 million robocalls targeted Vermonters. A robocall is a computer-generated telephone call that delivers a pre-recorded message. 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 “interconnect” companies to rout their robocalls to U.S. destination numbers. According to USTelecom, nationally, 89% of seniors receive at least one robocall per week; more than half, 56%, receive at least seven robocalls per week.

The total payment terms of the settlement are $67,000 to the state. However, in light of Strategic IT Partner’s financial circumstances, cooperation in the Attorney General’s investigation, and agreement to cease its business operations pending the investigation, Strategic IT Partner is required to pay the  Vermont $7,000 with the remainder suspended. If Strategic IT Partner violates the settlement, it will be required to pay the additional $60,000.

To report scam robocalls, call 800-649-2424.

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