FCC proposes record $225 million for illegal robocall campaign

In a significant development, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously to a proposal which sets a record $225 million in fine against Texas-based health insurance telemarketers for allegedly making around 1 billion illegal robocalls.

The FCC’s orders named John C. Spiller II, and Jakob Mears, who used businesses, including Rising Eagle and JSquared Telecom for making the robocalls. According to the regulator, the robocalls falsely claimed to offer health insurance plans from major health insurance companies including Cigna, Aetna, UnitedHealth Group and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Neither John C. Spiller II nor Jakob Mears could be immediately reached for comment.

In a statement, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said, Rising Eagle “primarily used spoofed Caller ID numbers to flood consumers with prerecorded calls that… misled consumers into thinking that the calls were from well-known and reputable health insurance providers.” He went on to add, through these robocalls consumers were offered “short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans offered by lesser known entities— a far cry from expectations.”

In a separate development, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with the state of Michigan, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina sued the pair, along with their Texas-based companies Rising Eagle Capital Group LLC and JSquared Telecom LLC, in U.S. District Court in Texas for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Over the last two years, Spiller and Mears initiated billions of abusive robocalls through the two companies, said Paxton. The robocalls, made from both to residential and cellular phone, “confront consumers with pre-recorded messages pitching healthcare products or automobile extended warranties.”

Backing the effort, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said, the FCC had not been able to collect a significant portion of the hundreds of millions of dollars in total robocall fines levied previously.

“So far collections on these eye-popping fines have netted next to nothing,” said Rosenworcel, saying the FCC needs assistance from the Justice Department to collect the fines.

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