Cheaters Never Prosper: FCC Proposes $10MM Fine On Man Who Used His Business Rival's Phone Number on Spoofed Robocalls
Last year 47,610 robocalls were made on May 30 and 31, 2018, – 6 days before California’s primary election vote for the 76th State Assembly District, (San Diego County’s northern coastal region). The robocalls contained a pre-recorded voice with a politically charged message – graphic details about a previously disproven sexual assault claim against one of the running Assembly candidates. The candidate was not the only one hit with malicious smear. Kenneth Moser, through his telemarketing company, Marketing Support Systems, made these false robocalls, however, as the FCC Chairman’s New Release reads, “The facts strongly suggest that Moser spoofed the caller ID information of a business rival with the intent to harm that rival.” From the FCC’s statements it is clear that Moser manipulated caller ID information to make it seem that his rival business – Mexico based telemarketing company, HomeyTel – was behind the robocalls.
The FCC noted in its News Release yesterday, “The Truth in Caller ID Act prohibits manipulating caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm … Moser himself apparently selected HomeyTel’s phone number to appear as the caller ID with the intent to cause harm…” The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau also found that Moser had sent more than 11,000 prerecorded voice messages to wireless phones without consent in violation of the TCPA, and further violated the TCPA’s requirement that prerecorded messages include the phone number, and identity of the entity responsible for initiating the call. In response, the FCC has proposed a forfeiture, or a “Notice of Apparent Liability” for $9,997,750.00 against Moser. (The FCC has authority to issue fines, but only the Justice Department can enforce those cases.) The FCC did also note in its News Release that “The party will be given an opportunity to respond and the Commission will consider the party’s submission of evidence and legal arguments before acting further to resolve the matter.” And in the Notice of Apparent For Forfeiture adopted yesterday by the FCC ordered that Moser “shall file a written statement seeking a reduction or cancellation of the proposed forfeiture.
The FCC Chairman stressed in his press release that this hefty Notice of Apparent Liability “is the latest, but certainly not the last, of [the FCC’s] enforcement efforts to aggressively combat illegal robocalls and protect American consumers.” The Chairman referenced the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act which among other things aims to extend the statute of limitations for the FCC to go after illegal robocallers. The Chairman also praised the FCC’s innovative efforts to work with other nations’ parallel commissions, such as the Canadian Radiotelevision and Telecommunications Commission, to further protect consumers from spoofed robo-calls.
The TCPA has been ever present on politicians’ dockets this past year, and this entwinement into a most monstrous political campaign will keep the TCPA in the FCC and legislature’s spotlight. TCPAWorld will continue to monitor for further developments and impacts for the industry.