WASHINGTON – The FCC’s Robocall Response Team announced July 21 that the Enforcement Bureau has ordered phone companies to stop carrying traffic regarding a known robocall scam marketing auto warranties. The calls are coming from Roy Cox, Jr., Aaron Michael Jones, their Sumco Panama companies, and international associates.
Building on FCC action earlier this month, all U.S. voice service providers must now take all necessary steps to avoid carrying this robocall traffic. This operation is also the target of an ongoing investigation by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau and a lawsuit by the Ohio Attorney General.
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said, “We are not going to tolerate robocall scammers or those that help make their scams possible. Consumers are out of patience and I’m right there with them.”
The Enforcement Bureau has ordered all U.S. voice service providers to take all necessary steps to avoid carrying robocall traffic from the Cox/Jones/Sumco Panama operation. The July 21 order followed a Public Notice that warned providers of this concerning flood of robocalls.
The notice had authorized providers to cut off the traffic and today’s order requires that they do so. If they do not, they must regularly report to the FCC of the steps they have taken to mitigate the traffic.
“Now that U.S. voice service providers know the individuals and entities associated with this scheme, the Enforcement Bureau will closely monitor voice service providers’ compliance with this order and take appropriate enforcement action as necessary,” said Acting FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Loyaan A. Egal.
How we got here:
The Cox/Jones/Sumco Panama operation appears to be responsible for making more than eight billion unlawful prerecorded message calls to American consumers since at least 2018. The robocalls include prerecorded marketing messages which encouraged consumers to follow prompts to speak with a “warranty specialist” about extending or reinstating their car warranty.
As announced on July 7, the Enforcement Bureau issued a Public Notice authorizing all U.S.-based voice service providers to cease carrying any traffic originating from the Cox/Jones/Sumco Panama operation consistent with FCC regulations.
At the same time, the Bureau sent cease-and-desist letters to eight voice service provider to warn them to stop carrying this suspicious traffic. The eight service providers have not responded to the letters and so, as provided in the public notice, the Enforcement Bureau is directing all other carriers to refuse to carry this traffic.
In addition, Rosenworcel announced the Enforcement Bureau had opened a formal case and is actively investigating these calls for possible legal violations.
The bigger picture:
Under Rosenworcel, the Robocall Response Team was created to serve as an FCC staff working group that pulls together expertise from across the agency to leverage the talents of enforcers, attorneys, policy makers, engineers, economists, and outreach experts to combat the unyielding menace of illegal spoofed, scam, robocalls.
This effort has resulted in:
* record-breaking spoofing and robocall fines
* closing gateways used by international robocallers to reach Americans’ phones
* widespread implementation of STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication standards to help traceback illegal calls and improve blocking tools to protect consumers
* the signing of robocall investigation partnerships with 41 states plus the District of Columbia and Guam and
* unprecedented policy proposals to combat the rising threat of bogus robotexts.
As a general matter, “Auto Warranty” scam robocalls resulted in more consumer complaints to the FCC than any other unwanted call category each of the last two years. These calls usually claim your insurance or warranty is about to expire and they frequently use consumers’ real information in order to appear legitimate.
These calls may be seeking consumers’ personal or financial information in order to defraud them, hoping to initiate a payment, and/or garnering information about active phones. More information (including audio of a scam call) are available at https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/beware-auto-warranty-scams.
Don’t share – Do not provide any personal information to anyone that calls you unexpectedly.
Be aware – Telephone scammers are good at what they do and may use real information to gain your trust and imply that they work for a company you trust.
Caller ID – Criminals might use “spoofing” to deliberately falsify the information transmitted.
Double check – If you think it might be a legitimate call, hang up and call the company with which you have an established business relationship using a phone number from a previous bill or on their website.
Let us know – File a complaint with the FCC at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/.