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FCC proposes $300 million fine for massive auto warranty robocaller scam

FCC proposes $300 million fine for massive auto warranty robocaller scam

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The fine, which would be the FCC’s largest ever, targets a robocalling scheme that racked up more than 5 billion calls in three months in 2021.

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A phone screen showing an incoming robocall
The fine would be the FCC’s largest ever.
Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing a $299,997,000 fine against a massive auto warranty scam robocall campaign, the agency announced on Wednesday. The fine, which would be the FCC’s largest ever, targets a huge operation; in just three months in 2021, it made more than 5 billion calls to more than a half-billion phone numbers using just over 1 million caller ID numbers. As the FCC put it, that’s “enough calls to have called each person in the United States 15 times during just those three months.”

According to the FCC, the operation is run by Roy Cox Jr. and Michael Aaron Jones via “their Sumco Panama company, other domestic and foreign entities, and a host of international cohorts located in Panama and Hungary (Cox/Jones Enterprise).” If those names sound somewhat familiar, that’s because the FCC already had the operation on its radar and asked carriers not to carry calls from it in July of this year. Spam blocker app Robokiller reported in November that car warranty robocalls have plummeted since June 2022, indicating that the FCC’s July action seemingly had a big effect.

The operation has been going since “at least” 2018, and the FCC says that consumers described calls they received with the terms “incessant” and “harassment.” The group also used some scummy tactics; the FCC said, for example, that it “called health care workers during a pandemic and spoofed the phone numbers of hospitals,” resulting in “confused consumers calling the hospitals to complain.”

The FCC says that the operation will now be given a chance to respond. But FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel seems pleased with the action. “Say goodbye to the auto warranty robocallers,” she tweeted.