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After a tip from TripAdvisor, FCC proposes its largest fine ever

TripAdvisor headquarters in Needham.
TripAdvisor headquarters in Needham.(Mary Schwalm for The Boston Globe)

The Federal Communications Commission proposed the largest fine in its history, $120 million, on a robocall scammer after a local company tipped it off to the scheme.

The FCC alleged that Adrian Abramovich, of Miami, ran a robocall operation that made 96 million calls over three months last year. The calls would offer fake travel and vacation deals, using TripAdvisor’s name, in an attempt to fleece consumers, the FCC said.

Needham-based TripAdvisor tipped off federal authorities in 2016 after consumers complained to the company about the robocalls, according to the FCC. TripAdvisor investigated those complaints independently and identified Abramovich as the source.

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Abramovich also used the names of other travel and hospitality companies, including Expedia, Marriott, and Hilton, according to the FCC.

The FCC said Abramovich used a technique known as “neighbor spoofing” to gain consumers’ trust. In such a scheme, a scammer makes the local area code and the first three digits of the recipient’s phone number appear on the targeted consumer’s caller ID.

The scheme, the FCC said, violated a law that prohibits callers from deliberately falsifying caller ID information.


Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com.