The Federal Communications Commission announced a record forfeiture of $225M against two entities, Rising Eagle and JSquared Telecom as well as their owners, John C. Spiller and Jakob A. Mears. The FCC alleged these entities illegally transmitted over one billion calls as well as spoofed the caller ID on many of those calls. The entities focused on calls related to health insurance and other health care products.
Importantly, the FCC declined to reduce the fine because of inability to pay or lack of prior offenses. Although the FCC has reduced fines for these reasons before, as has the Federal Trade Commission, the FCC claimed the scheme was the largest one it ever investigated and did not deserve any discounts. The FCC also did not hesitate to hold the owners in the scheme personally liable.
Also of interest was the involvement of the Industry Traceback Group (ITG), a consortium of telecom entities that work in close partnership with government. The ITG traces back illegal robocallers and refers cases to state and federal authorities. Failure to heed the ITG’s warning about stopping robocallers may lead telecom providers to potentially block all voice provider traffic if the warned providers do not take steps to effectively mitigate illegal traffic.
A leader in the consumer protection arena for more than two decades, Helen is a founding partner of M&S and former Chief of the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section. Her practice focuses on defense of federal, state, and multistate consumer protection investigations and enforcement actions.