NH Attorney General issues ‘cease and desist’ to Texas company behind fake Biden election robocalls

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NH Department of Justice. File photo/Annemarie Timmins

CONCORD, NH – The Texas firm Life Corporation has been identified as the source of AI-generated robocalls received by numerous New Hampshire residents purporting to be President Biden. An investigation was launched after the calls were reported on Jan. 21.

The NH Department of Justice Election Law Unit has issued a cease-and-desist order to Life Corporation for violating RSA 659:40, III, which prohibits any person from engaging in voter suppression by knowingly attempting to prevent or deter another person from voting or registering to vote based on fraudulent, deceptive, misleading, or spurious grounds or information. The cease-and-desist order requires Life Corporation to immediately cease violating RSA 659:40, III and all other New Hampshire election laws, and the order notes that the Election Law Unit reserves the right to take further enforcement actions based on conduct preceding the date of the order.

The robocalls played a message with what appeared to be an AI-generated voice clone of President Biden’s voice, and which encouraged recipients not to vote in the January 23, 2024, New Hampshire Presidential Primary Election. The AG’s office immediately launched an investigation into these calls in coordination with state and federal partners, including the Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force, which is a bipartisan task force made up of 50 state attorneys general, and the Federal Communications Commission Enforcement Bureau.  Through these collective efforts, the source of these calls has been identified as Texas-based Life Corporation and an individual named Walter Monk.

“Ensuring public confidence in the electoral process is vital. AI-generated recordings used to deceive voters have the potential to have devastating effects on the democratic election process,” said Attorney General Formella. “I would like to thank the members of our Election Law Unit, the experts from the offices of my fellow state Attorneys General who make up the Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force, as well as members of the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau for their invaluable support, cooperation, and investigative efforts in this matter. I would also like to thank YouMail and Nomorobo for helping to identify these robocalls, as well as Industry Traceback Group for its efforts in tracing the source of the identified robocalls. The partnership and fast action in this matter sends a clear message that law enforcement, regulatory agencies, and industry are staying vigilant and are working closely together to monitor and investigate any signs of AI being used maliciously to threaten our democratic process.”

The illegal robocalls in this case directly encouraged recipients not to participate in the New Hampshire Primary.  Specifically, the message stated: “It’s important that you save your vote for the November election,” as well as “Your vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday.” The robocalls also illegally spoofed their caller ID information to appear to come from a number belonging to a former New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair.  The message instructed recipients to call the number belonging to that person to be removed from future calls.

After identifying specific calls, the Election Law Unit requested ‘tracebacks’ via an entity known as Industry Traceback Group. These tracebacks identified the source of the calls to be Life Corporation and Walter Monk.  The tracebacks further identified the originating voice service provider for many of these calls to be Texas-based Lingo Telecom.  After Lingo Telecom was informed that these calls were being investigated, Lingo Telecom suspended services to Life Corporation.

The Election Law Unit is additionally issuing document preservation notices and subpoenas for records to Life Corporation and to multiple other entities, including Lingo Telecom, that may possess records relevant to the Attorney General’s ongoing investigation.

The Unit has also been working closely with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Enforcement Bureau. On Tuesday the FCC issued a cease-and-desist letter against Texas-based Lingo Telecom—the entity that is alleged to have originated robocall traffic using AI-generated voice cloning to spread misinformation to voters prior to New Hampshire’s primary election. The letter demands the company immediately stop supporting illegal robocall traffic on its networks. In addition, the Bureau issued an order, which strongly encourages other providers to refrain from carrying suspicious traffic from Lingo. The FCC may require other network providers affiliated with Lingo to block its traffic should the company continue this behavior.

Separately, the Election Law Unit has been working with the Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force on this matter. Today the Task Force is issuing a letter to Life Corporation notifying the company that the Task Force received information identifying Life Corporation as the originating calling customer responsible for transmitting the suspected illegal robocall traffic. That notice will request that Life Corporation ensure that the company is following all applicable federal and state laws, including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act; the Truth in Caller ID Act; and the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, Telemarking Sales Rule.

The Attorney General is continuing to investigate potential election law violations, Consumer Protection Act violations, and telephone Consumer Protection Act violations, while still determining the total number of robocalls made.  The call monitoring service, Nomorobo, estimates between 5,000 and 25,000 calls were made. The Election Law Unit is also aware of media reports that the recorded message was likely made using software from ElevenLabs. At this time, the Unit is continuing to investigate and cannot confirm whether that reporting is accurate. Finally, the Attorney General is continuing to investigate whether Life Corporation worked with or at the direction of any other persons or entities and at this time cannot comment on whether other persons or entities were involved.

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