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Two telemarketers fined record $225M for robocalls

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a record-setting fine to two men accused of making robocalls to sell fraudulent insurance plans this week.

The agency said in a statement on Wednesday that the two men, John Spiller and Jakob Mears, were allegedly operating companies in Texas that used the business names “Rising Eagle” and “JSquared Telecom” to send millions of robocalls per month with the intent of selling short-term health insurance plans that they fraudulently claimed were backed by insurance giants Cigna and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The men face a record-high $225 million fine, the largest of its type in FCC history.

“Mr. Spiller admitted to the USTelecom Industry Traceback Group that he made millions of spoofed calls per day and knowingly called consumers on the Do Not Call list as he believed that it was more profitable to target these consumers,” according to the FCC’s statement.

“The FCC’s investigation found that the Rising Eagle spoofed its robocalls to deceive consumers and caused at least one company whose caller IDs were spoofed to become overwhelmed with angry call-backs from aggrieved consumers,” it continued.

Former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai warned mobile carriers in 2019 to take steps to cut down on “spoofing,” a technique Mears and Spiller are accused of using to make their calls appear to come from legitimate companies.

Despite this, robocalls and specifically those using this technique have risen steadily in the past decade. The agency estimates that millions of robocalls are made in the U.S. every month.

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