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FCC Issues Cease-and-Desist to Halt Targeted Mortgage Scam Robocalls

PhoneBurner and Twilio were ordered to cease facilitating or carrying potentially illegal robocall traffic targeting homeowners.

Seal of the FCC
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The Federal Communications Commission took action Tuesday -- its second cease-and-desist order relating to robocalls this year -- to "shut down an apparent homeowner-focused robocall scam campaign," according to a release

Florida-based real estate brokerage firm MV Realty is accused of conducting a potentially illegal robocall campaign that called "millions of people on the National Do-Not-Call Registry" and left millions of pre-recorded voicemails. The robocalls and pre-recorded voicemails "included messages offering homeowners several hundred to several thousands of dollars in exchange for signing a 40-year exclusive listing agreement with MV Realty," according to the FCC

The company apparently used the dialing platform PhoneBurner, which then sent traffic to voice service provider Twilio, to make the unsolicited calls. The FCC's Enforcement Bureau identified 11,949,374 calls made to DNC-registered numbers by PhoneBurner and MV Realty.

While it's not the FCC's job to take direct action against MV Realty and its business practices, it can shut down the suspected illegal robocalls. The FCC's Enforcement Bureau on Tuesday ordered PhoneBurner to cease facilitating the robocalls and sent a cease-and-desist letter to Twilio demanding the company no longer carry the calls. Twilio is now the largest voice service provider to have received a cease-and-desist letter from the FCC, according to the release.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel commented on the action, stating "Mortgage scams are some of the most pernicious types of robocalls we see. Sending these junk calls to financially stressed homeowners just to offer them deceptive products and services is unconscionable. That's why we are shutting down these calls right now." 

The FCC received around 1,500 unwanted call complaints related to mortgage services in 2022. A representative couldn't comment how many of those complaints, if any, were linked to MV Realty. 

MV Realty didn't respond to a request for comment.