The US Justice Department has filed lawsuits against a handful of companies and individuals, accusing them of facilitating hundreds of millions of fraudulent robocalls. The suits accuse the companies of causing "elderly and vulnerable victims" serious financial harm.

According to the suits, most of the calls originated in India and were placed using VoIP systems. The calls use threats of disruptions to social security benefits or arrest for supposed tax fraud, among other tactics, to extort money from victims. The Justice Department wants to crack down on what it calls "US-based enablers" of these scams, and says it's warned those enablers repeatedly about carrying such calls on their networks. One company, TollFreeDeals.com, is alleged to have carried 720 million calls in one 23-day period, most of which ended in under a second — a clear sign of spam calls. The government is seeking temporary restraining orders on the companies against which it has filed suit to prevent robocalls.

The suits come amid increased scrutiny on robocallers. In December, the White House signed into law the TRACED Act, which imposes heavy fines on spam call operations with no warning.