Aug 9, 2019
The average American is on the receiving end of more than 150 robocalls a year. Some robocalls, which are automated telephone calls placed by a computerized auto dialer, have legitimate purposes. Unfortunately, many of these calls are used to pester or scam consumers. In June 2019 alone Americans received 4.35 billion robocalls, with scams and telemarketing making up over 50 percent. Curious about the barrage of robocalls he himself receives, journalist Alex Palmer decides to look into how robocalls work and why they’ve become so popular. He finds that advances in technology and the low cost of placing robocalls—as little as 4 cents per dial—have made this nuisance a popular marketing tool for scammers. After digging deeper into the trend, Alex discovers the case of a set of illegal robocalls that temporarily stalled a Virginia-based paging provider, disrupting the ability of hospitals to get in touch with emergency services personnel. As a result, local doctors, nurses, EMTs and firefighters were at risk of missing critical pages. Due to the resulting public safety hazard, the Federal Communications Commission made tracking down the source of these robocalls a top priority. Meanwhile, travel-review website TripAdvisor is being inundated with complaints from customers that it is soliciting them through robocalls to use its travel rewards program. But TripAdvisor isn’t making the calls and doesn’t have a rewards program. With its reputation at stake, TripAdvisor puts its top fraud experts on the case. The FCC and the travel site will eventually learn that they are on the hunt for the same man, Adrian Abramovich.