FCC Proposes $82 Million Fine Against Wilmington, NC Man for Spoofed Telemarketing Robocalls
Philip Roesel made millions of illegally spoofed robocalls to consumers around the country
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed an $82.1 million fine against an individual who it says made more than 21 million illegally spoofed robocalls in violation of the Truth in Caller ID Act.
The law prohibits callers from deliberately falsifying caller ID information—a practice called "spoofing"—to disguise their identity with the intent to harm, defraud consumers, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.
Millions of illegally spoofed robocalls
The FCC found that Best Insurance Contracts and its owner/operator, Mr. Philip Roesel of Wilmington, North Carolina (doing business as Wilmington Insurance Quotes), made millions of illegally spoofed robocalls to consumers around the country.
The agency says that Mr. Roesel displayed inaccurate caller ID information when making robocalls in an effort to sell health insurance. He especially targeted vulnerable consumers including the elderly, the infirm, and low-income families.
In December 2016, a medical paging provider called Spōk complained to FCC staff that robocalling campaigns were disrupting its network. Using information provided by Spōk to connect these calls to Mr. Roesel, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau subpoenaed Mr. Roesel's call records from October 2016 through January 2017. Based on these records, FCC investigators verified 82,106 health insurance telemarketing calls made during that time used falsified caller ID information.
Truth in Caller ID Act
The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 and the FCC's rules prohibit spoofing with the intent to cause harm, defraud, or wrongfully obtain anything of value. Consumers rely on caller ID information to make decisions about what calls to accept, ignore, or block. Accurate caller ID information is a vital tool that consumers use to protect their privacy, avoid fraud, and ensure peace of mind.
The FCC has focused on malicious caller ID spoofing recently. Changes in technology have made it easier and cheaper for scammers and others with nefarious intentions to make robocalls and to manipulate caller ID information. To address this consumer problem, the agency has focused both on enforcement actions like today's and on pursuing policies to help consumers and their service providers block malicious robocalls.
Working to Protect Consumers
The FCC says that it is currently exploring ways to set up a reliable system to verify that a phone call is really coming from the phone number that it claims to be.
The agency is also aiming to help consumers prevent spoofing scams like the famous IRS debt scam through a "Do-Not-Originate" list which would help carriers block spoofed calls purporting to be from numbers that do not make calls, like specific in-bound-only phone lines used by entities like the IRS or numbers using non-existent area codes.