WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The FCC issued a $255 million fine to Texas telemarketers for illegally spoofing approximately 1 billion robocalls to sell short-term health insurance plans.
The FCC says that those calls falsely claimed to offer health insurance plans from companies including Aetna and UnitedHealth group.
The two men reportedly involved in the scheme, John C. Spiller and Jakob A. Mears, transmitted the 1 billion robocalls in fewer than five months during 2019, the FCC said.
The FCC noted in the announcement of the fine that, “Beginning in 2018, there was an increase in consumer complaints and robocall traffic related to health insurance and other health care products, with approximately 23.6 million health insurance robocalls crossing the networks of the four largest wireless carriers each day.”
Spiller told the USTelecom Industry Traceback Group that he purposely targeted those on the Do Not Call list since he believed “that it was more profitable to target these consumers.” The FCC found the two men’s companies, Rising Eagle and JSquared Telecom, conducted a large portion of the health insurance related robocall traffic.
The Missouri Attorney General sued Health Advisors of America for hiring Rising Eagle to commit those telemarketing violations.
The FCC found that the spoofed numbers used by Rising Eagle purposely deceived consumers and caused one company specifically to be overwhelmed with angry call-backs after the corporation’s number was used.
The practice of spoofing is illegal under the Truth in Caller ID Act.
Additionally, the FCC announced they are launching a Robocall Response Team which will work to coordinate and implement the agency’s anti-robocall efforts. The group will be made up of 51 FCC staff members across six bureaus and offices.
An app that helps identify and stop robocalls, RoboKiller, recently reported there was a 10% increase in robocalls from January 2021 and a 26% increase compared to February 2020.