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FCC proposes $10 million fine on robocaller that spread misinformation on California politician

A major TCPA violation — with a twist

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission proposed a nearly $10 million fine against a robocaller who allegedly spread “false accusations” about a California political candidate.

According to the FCC, Kenneth Moser and his telemarketing company Marketing Support Systems placed around 47,000 unlawfully spoofed robocalls ahead of the California State Assembly primary election last year. The calls were placed over a two-day period and spoofed to appear as though they originated from HomeyTel, a separate telemarketing company with ties to Moser.

“The calls made allegations about a specific candidate which had already been investigated and disproven by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department,” the FCC said in a press release.

In a press release, the FCC said that Moser chose to spoof HomeyTel’s number “with the intent to cause harm” to the company and others. The prerecorded messages were allegedly sent without consent and violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA. If investigators had relied solely on the spoofed caller ID number, they could have been fooled into thinking that HomeyTel was responsible for the violation.

The FCC has proposed millions of dollars in robocalling fines over the past few years. In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that since 2015, the agency has issued over $208 million in fines against illegal robocallers, but had only collected $6,790. The FCC has the authority to issue fines, but isn’t able to enforce the forfeiture orders. The Justice Department has to pursue those cases. Many of these robocallers come from small outfits that are unable to pay such hefty fines, despite how malicious theirs intentions could be.