The Justice Department (DOJ) secured a pair of “first of their kind” injunctions in two federal cases involving hundreds of millions of scam calls impersonating the IRS and other government agencies and businesses, authorities announced Friday.
Both cases — United States v. Nicholas Palumbo, et al., and United States v. John Kahen, et al. — involve individuals and entities accused of helping scammers transmit calls using the Internet.
“These massive robocall fraud schemes target telephones of residents across our country, many of whom are elderly or are otherwise potentially vulnerable,” Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt said. “The department is committed to stopping this unlawful conduct and pursuing those who knowingly facilitate these schemes for their own financial gain.”
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The defendants allegedly offered voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) systems to relay robocalls, many of them originating on overseas call centers, to American recipients. In addition to impersonating the IRS, the scammers using the services allegedly pretended to be representing other agencies such as the Social Security Administration and businesses like Microsoft.
As a result, victims suffered “massive financial losses,” the DOJ said in a press release.
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In the Palumbo case, an Arizona couple had been warned more than 100 times that fraudsters were using their two VoIP companies for illegitimate calls, according to the release.
In issuing the preliminary injunction against Nicholas and Natasha Palumbo, the court found probable cause to believe that they took part in “widespread patterns of telecommunications fraud” intended specifically to deprive victims of “money and property,” the DOJ said.
The Kahen case was resolved in a settlement, permanently barring New York resident John Kahen and a number of companies from using or facilitating robocalls — and from working for or consulting anyone engaged in those activities.
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Both cases involve allegations only, the DOJ made clear, and no final determinations of liability or wrongdoing have been reached by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.