The Federal Communications Commission has proposed fines of $225 million against health care telemarketers who, it said, made one billion robocalls in the first four and a half months of 2019.
The FCC said John C. Spiller and Jakob A. Mears, who used business names including Rising Eagle and JSquared Telecom, made calls on behalf of clients that sell short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans.
“Are you looking for affordable health insurance with benefits from a company you know? Policies have all been reduced nationwide such as Cigna, Blue Cross, Aetna, and United just a quick phone call away. Press 3 to get connected to a licensed agent or press 7 to be added to the Do Not Call list,” one call said.
The FCC said the fines would be the largest in its 86-year history.
According to the FCC, Spiller admitted to knowingly making calls to consumers on the Do Not Call list because he believed it would be profitable to target those consumers. He also made millions of calls per day using spoofed numbers.
“We are making it clear that scamming consumers and — as we saw in this case — tricking them into buying products under false pretenses cannot and will not go unchecked,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said. “That is why the FCC and state officials are standing together and taking strong action to protect the American public from the scourge of spoofed robocalls.”
The proposed fines were set forth in a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and may not amount to the actual fines imposed.
“So far, collections on these eye-popping fines have netted next to nothing,” Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said. “Why? Well, one reason is that the FCC looks to the Department of Justice to collect on the agency’s fines against robocallers. We need them to help.”