June 5, 2024

FCC Identifies International Robocall Threat Actor: Royal Tiger

FCC Identifies International Robocall Threat Actor: Royal Tiger

The FCC announced on May 13, 2024, that its Enforcement Bureau designated the group Royal Tiger and its associates as a “significant threat” according to its new Consumer Communications Information Services Threat (C-CIST) classification system. This is the first time the FCC has officially classified a group in this way, marking a significant shift in regulatory compliance.

The FCC published a press release on its website: FCC Classifies Repeat Robocall Bad Actor as First ‘C-CIST’.

FCC Names Royal Tiger as a Major Threat Actor

Royal Tiger has been accused of using various shell companies and technologies to commit phone-enabled fraud. Fraud attempts targeting U.S. consumers have, according to the FCC, “impersonated government agencies, banks, and utility companies.” The company and its related members appear to have operations in India, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates.

Royal Tiger cooperates with several other companies, many of which are registered under the names Prince Jashvantlal Anand, Kaushal Bhavsar, and Frank Murphy, which is likely an alias used by Anand. At least three companies, One Eye, PZ Telecommunications, and Illum Telecommunications, have locations in the U.S.

PZ Telecommunications and Illum Telecommunications received cease-and-desist letters from the FCC in 2021. The FCC sent a similar letter to One Eye in 2023.

The FCC blocked downstream providers from serving One Eye in 2023, but Royal Tiger has found ways to continue targeting American consumers. The new classification as a significant threat should help the FCC and foreign agencies cooperate in their efforts to stop the criminal gang.

Robocall Gang Uses AI Voice Cloning

Royal Tiger stands out as a significant threat because it uses AI voice-cloning and caller ID spoofing technologies to impersonate trusted government agencies, banks, and other organizations. This approach makes it difficult for consumers to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent calls, increasing the likelihood that they will give criminals sensitive information.

The FCC says that AI voice-cloning and caller ID spoofing pose a “threat to consumer trust in the integrity of communications information services.” As people become increasingly cautious to avoid fraud, legitimate organizations have a harder time contacting people to give them important information. The FCC and telecommunication leaders hope C-CIST and other attempts will help squash fraud attempts and rejuvenate public trust.

Consumer Communications Information Services Threat (C-CIST) Classification

Like other criminals, those connected to Royal Tiger know that they must take evasive action to avoid authorities. When it comes to using technologies like AI voice cloning and caller ID spoofing, that largely means registering in countries known for poor regulatory enforcement and using a long list of shell corporations intended to confuse regulators.

In the FCC’s words, C-CIST classification will “shine a light on the tactics, techniques, and procedures of a C-CIST’s illegal operation.” For example, the FCC plans to publish the names of companies and individuals that fall into this classification, making it easier for telecom service providers to follow know-your-customer standards and block bad actors.

Eventually, C-CIST will offer a database of known criminal organizations defrauding American consumers and organizations. It will become harder and harder for bad actors to hide behind aliases.

FCC Designates AI Robocalls Illegal

Some groups have argued that existing laws don’t apply to AI robocalls. The FCC dismissed that notion in early 2024 with a unanimous decision that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) “applies to AI technologies that generate human voices.” The law already included language that restricted artificial and prerecorded voices. The vote clarified any misconception and helped pave the way for more effective enforcement.

FCC’s “Spring Cleaning” Enforcement

Although Royal Tiger is the first company to receive a significant threat classification, it isn’t the first company targeted by the FCC this spring. The Enforcement Bureau began a Spring Cleaning enforcement series in April.

The Spring Cleaning enforcement series targeted some of the most pervasive fraudsters and the service providers helping connect them with consumers. The first action involved sending a cease-and-desist order to Veriwave Telco, which was running an illegal robocall campaign about a “National Tax Relief Program.” The Enforcement Bureau also sent orders to service providers informing them that they could stop accepting traffic from Veriwave Telco.

The FCC also sent cease-and-desist letters to DigitalIPPolice, which was acting as a gateway service provider for illegal robocall campaigns coming from overseas, and Alliant Financial, which was running a debt consolidation scam.

Importance of Caller ID Monitoring

Enhanced enforcement and the rollout of STIR/SHAKEN should help curb phone-enabled fraud. Unfortunately, those strategies can’t immediately prevent tactics like caller ID spoofing. Bad actors still have plenty of tools that help them defraud the public, often at the expense of legitimate business reputations.

Vigilant caller ID monitoring can protect your business by identifying when someone has spoofed your phone number to trick consumers. If you see suspicious activity, you can address the problem to improve answer rates.

Caller ID Reputation’s Device Cloud solution shows you precisely what appears on caller ID screens when you use your business phone numbers. It uses real devices connected to the nation’s most popular service providers, so you can always audit the accuracy of your caller ID.

Register today to see how Caller ID Reputation’s suite of solutions can help your business thrive.