Last year 47,610 robocalls blew up people’s phones in San Diego’s coast, 6 days before their election vote for the 76th District. The robocalls had a pre-recorded politically charged message – graphic details about, a previously disproved, sexual assault claim against one of the running candidates. That candidate was not the only one hit with malicious smear. Kenneth Moser, through his telemarketing company, pelted the false robocalls, and, as the FCC Chairman’s New Release indicates, the facts strongly suggest that Moser spoofed the caller ID information to make it seem his business rival – Mexico based telemarketing company, HomeyTel – was behind the robocalls.
The FCC noted in its News Release, “The Truth in Caller ID Act prohibits manipulating caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm … Moser apparently selected HomeyTel’s phone number to appear as the caller ID with the intent to cause harm…” The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau also found that Moser had sent more than 11,000 prerecorded voice messages to wireless phones without consent in violation of the TCPA, and further violated the TCPA’s requirement that prerecorded messages include the phone number, and identity of the entity responsible for initiating the call. In response, the FCC has proposed a forfeiture, or a “Notice of Apparent Liability” for $9,997,750.00 against Moser. (The FCC has authority to issue fines, but only the Justice Department can enforce those cases.) The FCC did also note in its News Release that “The party will be given an opportunity to respond and the Commission will consider the party’s submission of evidence and legal arguments before acting further to resolve the matter.” And in the Notice of Apparent For Forfeiture adopted yesterday by the FCC ordered that Moser “shall file a written statement seeking a reduction or cancellation of the proposed forfeiture.
The FCC Chairman stressed in his press release that this hefty Notice of Apparent Liability “is the latest, but certainly not the last, of [the FCC’s] enforcement efforts to aggressively combat illegal robocalls and protect American consumers.” The Chairman referenced the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act which among other things aims to extend the statute of limitations for the FCC to go after illegal robocallers. The Chairman also praised the FCC’s innovative efforts to work with other nations’ parallel commissions, such as the Canadian Radiotelevision and Telecommunications Commission, to further protect consumers from spoofed robo-calls.
The TCPA has been ever present on politicians’ dockets this past year, and this entwinement into a most monstrous political campaign will keep the TCPA in the FCC and legislature’s spotlight. TCPAWorld will continue to monitor for further developments and impacts for the industry.