FCC Proposes Massive Fine for Robocall Rampage

The Federal Communications Commission proposed a $12.9 million fine against a Utah man for an inflammatory multi-state robocall campaign. The campaign targeted six states and used caller ID spoofing to make caller numbers appear to be located geographically close to the recipient of the robocall. “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 release said.

The caller was, according to the release, “apparently motivated by a belief that these actions would result in media notoriety and accordingly would enable him to increase publicity for his website and personal brand.” The caller was described by The Spokesman-Review as “a Nazi sympathizer.”

The robocall rampage spanned six states. In California, the caller made anti-Semitic insinuations about a U.S. Senator during her primary campaign, while calls in Florida made racist caricatures directed at a gubernatorial candidate. Other calls attempted to intimidate a journalist who exposed the caller, while others attempted to influence a jury trying a white supremacist terrorist for murder.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said “[o]ur Notice of Apparent Liability will not undo the harm caused by these spoofed robocalls…[b]ut it once again makes clear this Commission’s determination to go after those who are unlawfully bombarding the American people with spoofed robocalls. ” He also thanked the Senators and Representatives responsible for passing the TRACED Act.

Despite the near-$13 million fee sought, there could be difficulty in collecting even a portion of the fine. The Wall Street Journal published an investigation last year which revealed that the FCC has only collected a miniscule percentage of levied robocall fines.