Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, along with the Federal Trade Commission and more than 100 federal and state law enforcement partners nationwide, have announced a new crackdown on illegal telemarketing calls involving more than 180 actions targeting operations responsible for billions of calls to U.S. consumers.

The joint federal and state initiative, “Operation Stop Scam Calls,” is part of the Commission’s ongoing efforts to combat the scourge of illegal telemarketing, including robocalls. The initiative not only targets telemarketers and the companies that hire them but also takes action against lead generators who deceptively collect and provide consumers’ telephone numbers to robocallers and others, falsely representing that these consumers have consented to receive calls. The effort also targets Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers who facilitate illegal robocalls every year, which often originate overseas.

 “Today, government agencies at all levels are united in fighting the scourge of illegal telemarketing. We are taking action against those who trick people into phony consent to receive these calls and those who make it easy and cheap to place these calls,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, who appeared at a news conference in Chicago announcing the initiative. “The FTC and its law enforcement partners will not rest in the fight against illegal telemarketing.”

Operation Stop Scam Calls includes five new cases from the FTC against companies and individuals responsible for distributing or assisting the distribution of illegal telemarketing calls to consumers nationwide. Today’s actions make clear that third-party lead generation for robocalls is illegal under the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and that the FTC and its partners are committed to stopping illegal calls by targeting anyone in the telemarketing ecosystem that assists and facilitates these calls, including VoIP service providers.

The FTC has brought a total of 167 cases against illegal robocallers and Do Not Call (DNC) violators, including many lead generators and VoIP service providers. Courts in these cases have ordered the defendants to pay more than $2 billion dollars, and the FTC has collected more than $394 million, much of which has been used to provide refunds to defrauded consumers.

In addition to the FTC actions announced today, 48 federal and 54 state agencies have brought more than 180 enforcement actions and other initiatives as part of Operation Stop Scam Calls. Contributing law enforcers include the Department of Justice, which has announced several civil and criminal actions related to this initiative, as well as the Federal Communications Commission, Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

“Our collective efforts – from this sweep to the Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force and beyond – help us to expand our playbook, allowing us to outwit and defeat these perpetrators in their own arena,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said. “Our secret weapon is consumers – whom we urge to continue reporting illicit robocalls, so we can sever these unwanted illegal robocallers’ connection once and for all.”

“Unsolicited robocalls violate consumers’ privacy and unnecessarily cost them time and money. Companies responsible for these illegal, annoying calls must be held accountable,” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said. “I am proud of my office’s role in this robocall sweep with the Federal Trade Commission, law enforcement partners and my fellow attorneys general from across the country. I will continue to work to address this problem in Illinois and protect consumers’ rights by fighting against these unlawful and disruptive practices.”