The FCC has fined two Texas telemarketers $225 million for making roughly 1 billion robocalls, bothering people across the United States.
The companies — which have received the largest fine in FCC history — “illegally spoofed, to sell short-term, limited duration health insurance plans,” according to the FCC.
“The robocalls falsely claimed to offer health insurance plans from well-known health insurance companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cigna,” the agency added.
“John C. Spiller and Jakob A. Mears transmitted the spoofed robocalls across the country during the first four and-a-half months of 2019,” the FCC said, adding that Spiller admitted to making “millions of spoofed calls per day and knowingly called consumers on the Do Not Call list as he believed that it was more profitable to target these consumers.”
Spiller and Mears had used the business names “Rising Eagle” and “JSquared Telecom.”
“Rising Eagle made the calls on behalf of clients, the largest of which, Health Advisors of America, was sued by the Missouri Attorney General for telemarketing violations in February 2019,” the agency added.
According to the FCC, “a large portion” of the more than 23.6 million “unwelcome” health insurance robocalls came from Rising Eagle.
“Beginning in 2018, there was an increase in consumer complaints and robocall traffic related to health insurance and other health care products, with approximately 23.6 million health insurance robocalls crossing the networks of the four largest wireless carriers each day,” the FCC said. “Rising Eagle originated a large portion of this unwelcome robocall traffic.”
“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 agency added. “The FCC’s investigation found that the Rising Eagle spoofed its robocalls to deceive consumers and caused at least one company whose caller IDs were spoofed to become overwhelmed with angry call-backs from aggrieved consumers.”