FCC Tries To Slap Robocaller With $82 Million Fine

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) put forward a roughly $82 million fine Thursday against a man who, through his insurance company, allegedly conducted more than 21 million unlawful, automated phone calls.

The federal agency says Philip Roesel of North Carolina, and his corporation Best Insurance Contracts, purposefully altered caller ID information in an attempt to dupe people into accepting their robocalls. Spoofing, as it’s typically referenced, was made illegal after the Truth in Caller ID Act passed in 2009. The statute specifically outlines how “the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value” is strictly forbidden, except for certain law enforcement endeavors.

Roesel “especially targeted vulnerable consumers, including the elderly, the infirm, and low-income families,” the FCC said in a statement.

The alleged frequency of his robocalls is stark.

“Over a three-month period from late 2016 through early 2017, Mr. Roesel was responsible for more than 200,00 robocalls a day — 21.5 million altogether,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. “Perhaps worse is the gall he evidently paired with his gumption. The record shows that he instructed his employees which consumers to pick on: ‘the dumber and more broke the better.'”

“He was even quoted as repeatedly bragging and ‘joking’ to co-workers that his actions were minor legal violations, akin to driving above the speed limit,” Pai added.

One of the FCC’s main initiatives is to put the kibosh on illicit robocalls, which usually come at the worst times, like during dinner with the family, often one of the brief moments people have to unwind from work. (RELATED: FCC Wants To Get Rid Of One Of The Most Annoying Things In The World)

It proposed a $120 million fine against an individual who made nearly 100 million robocalls to sell timeshares. The FCC also actually fined a New Mexico company $2.8 million for providing a robocalling platform that empowered users with easy caller ID manipulation.

“The Commission is currently exploring ways,” Pai continued, “to set up a reliable system to verify that a phone call is really coming from the phone number that it claims to be.”

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