FCC Proposes Largest Ever TCPA Fine Against Anti Vote-by-Mail Robocalling Scheme Perpetrators

According to a news release issued on Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed a fine of approximately $5.13 million against two men and their limited liability company for making over a 1,000 unlawful robocalls last year. The FCC filed a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, or NAL, containing allegations advising John M. Burkman, Jacob Alexander Wohl, and J.M. Burkman & Associates LLC of how they violated the law and setting forth the record-breaking Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) monetary penalty.

The FCC claims that the accused made unlawful pre-recorded voice calls to wireless phones without prior express consent on August 26 and Sept. 14, 2020. Wohl, Burkman, and their company reportedly “used messages telling potential voters that, if they vote by mail, their ‘personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts.’”

After it was prompted by consumer complaints and concerns raised by a non-profit organization, the FCC initiated an investigation. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau found that the calls were indeed pre-recorded to consumers’ wireless phones without TCPA-required prior consent. Investigation subpoenas yielded email exchanges between the dialing service vendors and the two men about the call campaigns, including which zip codes to focus on and the message selected for broadcast.

In addition, the calls themselves reportedly identified Wohl and Burkman by name and used the latter’s wireless phone number as the caller ID. Finally, in a separate proceeding in the Southern District of New York, both men allegedly admitted under oath to their involvement in the creation and distribution of the robocalls. 

According to the press release, the parties will be given an opportunity to respond to the charges and the FCC will consider the parties’ evidence and legal arguments before acting further to resolve the matter.