Law firm wins $12.M judgment against telemarketer that spoofed its phone number in consumer calls
A Miami law firm has obtained a default judgment for nearly $12.8 million against a South African company that spoofed the phone number of its managing partner to make thousands of calls to consumers.
Aballi Milne Kalil succeeded in stopping the calls and obtaining damages as a result of the work of litigator Matthew Deblinger, who joined the firm as an associate in September 2016, the Daily Business Review reports.
Judge Reemberto Diaz ordered the company, Sidqcon Pty Ltd., to pay damages of $10,659,000 for violations of the Florida Telemarketing Act and $2,131,800 for tortious interference with business relationships. Telcast Networks, which was Sidqcon’s phone provider, is jointly liable for the tortious interference damages.
Sidqcon had made it appear that its calls were coming from the law firm when it contacted mostly elderly consumers and gauged their interest in different insurance products, Deblinger told the Daily Business Review. When consumers indicated interest, the company recorded their personal information and sold it to insurance companies.
Deblinger was assigned to tackle the problem after Aballi Milne Kalil began hearing from callers in fall 2016 who said they had missed calls from the law firm. The firm sometimes received dozens of calls every few minutes, according to Deblinger’s motion for summary judgment.
Sidqcon uses an auto-dialing system that allows it to input any phone number it chooses, even if the number already is in use, according to Deblinger’s motion. Callers who returned calls to the law firm expressed “confusion, frustration or even outright anger,” the motion said.
Deblinger filed a John Doe lawsuit in February 2017 to try to track down the company that was spoofing its number. Some callers were willing to provide their own number and telephone provider to the law firm, which then issued subpoenas to telephone providers to try to obtain records that would identify the spoofer.
Deblinger learned that Telcast was the call provider in July 2017. Telcast revealed its spoofing client was Sidqcon and provided records showing Sidqcon made 10,659 calls using the law firm’s number in two months before July 6, 2017. Older records were not available, Telcast said.
The law firm asked for damages against Sidqcon of $1,000 per call under the Florida telemarketing law, which bars telemarketers from hiding their telephone numbers when using equipment that is capable of providing those numbers.
“We believe this sends a strong message to phone spoofers,” Deblinger told the Daily Business Review. “It needs to stop.”