The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today issued a $225 million fine for Texas-based telemarketers who, according to the commission, made approximately 1 billion illegal robocalls during the first four-and-a-half months of 2019.. The robocall fine is the largest ever levied by the regulator.
The calls, many of which allegedly were illegally spoofed, were made in attempts to sell health insurance, as the regulator announced in its initial complaint.
The plans that the calls from John C. Spiller and Jakob A. Mears falsely proposed to offer were supposedly from Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cigna and other well-known insurers.
Spiller earlier told the USTelecom Industry Traceback Group that he made millions of spoofed calls per day and knowingly called consumers on the Do Not Call list because he thought successfully selling these customers would result in higher profits.
Mears and Spiller, using the business name Rising Eagle, made the calls on behalf of Health Advisors of America and other clients. Health Advisors was sued in February 2019 by the Missouri Attorney General for telemarketing violations.
Though there are several different types of robocalling scams, healthcare-related calls have become much more prevalent since 2018, with more than 23.5 million health insurance robocalls daily over networks of the four largest wireless carriers.
The Truth in Caller ID Act prohibits manipulating caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.
The FCC’s investigation found that the Rising Eagle spoofed its robocalls to deceive consumers and caused at least one company whose caller IDs were spoofed to become overwhelmed with angry call-backs from angered consumers, according to the FCC press release.