DOJ Files Suit Against Montana Man to Collect $9.9M Robocalling Fine

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) served a complaint against Scott Rhodes, the man who allegedly and unlawfully falsified, or “spoofed,” his caller identification information and harassed many Americans with malicious robocalls. According to the Missoula, Montana filing, the federal government seeks to recover the penalty imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over Rhodes’ alleged and repeated violations of the Truth in Caller ID Act.

The complaint alleges that the defendant “has a long history of making telephone calls with the intention of upsetting the calls’ recipients and invading their privacy with unwanted and outrageous messages.” It specified that the communications were often made using robocalls either through an automatic telephone dialing system or with an artificial or pre-recorded voice.

According to the DOJ’s press release, the targets of his call campaigns were often people in areas traumatized by a local disturbance. For example, the complaint points to a campaign targeting the residents of Brooklyn, Iowa in the aftermath of a local woman’s murder. “Those spoofed robocalls allegedly included a message that the local woman had been murdered by a ‘biological hybrid of white and savage Aztec ancestors’ and that if she ‘could be brought back to life for just one moment,’ she would ask the listener to ‘kill them all,’” the DOJ explains.

After the FCC’s investigation determined that Rhodes had broken the law, it enjoined the man from further violations and imposed the nearly eight-figure penalty. The DOJ’s suit, filed in late September but served on Rhodes this week, now seeks to enforce the forfeiture penalty and a permanent injunction barring the defendant from violating the Communications Act. The defendant “has refused to accept responsibility for his unlawful acts or acknowledge their wrongful nature,” the complaint says in asking for a writ of mandamus.