On June 9, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) announced a proposed $225 million fine, the largest in the history of the FCC, against several individuals for telemarketing violations.
The FCC alleged that John C. Spiller and Jakob A. Mears made over one billion spoofed robocalls to sell health insurance plans under a variety of business names including Rising Eagle and JSquared Telecom. The robocalls falsely claimed to offer health insurance plans from major insurers but instead were sold by entities not affiliated in any way with those insurers. In addition, the robocalls knowingly targeted (1) consumers on the federal Do Not Call list in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and (2) wireless consumers without first obtaining prior consent. Several state attorneys general have also filed suit against the same individuals and companies in federal court.
The FCC’s proposed fine, which is known as a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, is not final, and the accused parties have the opportunity to respond to the allegations and submit evidence on their behalf.
The proposed record $225 million fine eclipses the telemarketing settlement against Dish Network in 2017 in terms of the amount proposed to be awarded to the federal government. That settlement, which was recently upheld by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals but remanded for reconsideration of damages, proposed to award $168 million to the federal government, with the rest going to several states.