Robocaller fined almost $10 million for unlawful calls
The Federal Communications Commission on December 12, 2019 issued a $9,997,750 fine against a robocall perpetrator for making 47,610 calls on May 30–31, 2018. The Commission based this fine upon its evaluation of several laws that were violated.
The robocaller, Kenneth Moser, of Marketing Support Systems in San Diego, spoofed the caller ID on these calls. Here’s an overview:
- The calls were made using a spoofed caller ID of another telemarketing firm, HomeyTel, a competitor of Mr. Moser. Moser was not authorized to use HomeyTel’s calling number.
- The calls were placed on May 30–31, 2018 about a week before a political primary election.
- The calls played a recorded message that accused a candidate, Philip Graham, of having committed sexual assault, a claim that the San Diego County Sheriff’s office investigated and found was not true.
- Graham obtained a cease and desist order against HomeyTel, not realizing that HomeyTel hadn’t placed these calls.
- These robocalls annoyed and upset thousands of subscribers. Many complained to authorities about HomeyTel.
- Moser had sued HomeyTel three times previously for making illegal robocalls.
- The robocall recording said that the calls were paid for by Jennifer Jones, a pseudonym designed to conceal the identity of the person who paid Moser to make these robocalls.
- The FCC concluded that Moser violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Truth in Caller ID Act.
- Although Moser identifies his company as Marketing Support Systems, this organization is not a legally incorporated entity. Therefore, the FCC has assessed this fine against Moser personally.
- The Commission order gives Moser 30 days to pay.
This is a remarkable case in which an unlawful robocall perpetrator attempted to harm both his competitor and his client’s opponent while collecting fees and attemtping to avoid legal consequences.
This also demonstrates the need for STIR/SHAKEN, a technology used to authenticate caller ID and assist with call traceback.