FCC Fines Telemarketer $10M For Robocalls Spoofing Competitor’s Number, False Allegations Against Candidate

On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a fine against a San Diego-based telemarketer, Marketing Support Systems, $9,997,750 for making 47,610 illegal robocalls that spoofed competitor HomeyTel Network’s number , while “transmitting the prerecorded voice calls containing false accusations against a candidate for the California State Assembly” during a two-day period a week before the 2018 primary election in California.

The FCC stated that the telemarketer “made allegations which had already been investigated and disproven by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.” Afterwards, the California Secretary of State referred a complaint to the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, which investigated these spoofed calls. In December 2019, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability.

The FCC stated that the Truth in Caller ID Act “prohibits manipulating caller ID information, or spoofing, with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.” The agency found that because Kenneth Moser and his telemarketing company spoofed competitor HomeyTel Network’s number, there was “intent to cause harm to HomeyTel and others.” HomeyTel, “which advertises that it provides legal robocalling services to political candidates,” received a litany of angry consumer complaints and a cease and desist from the California State Assembly candidate.

Meanwhile, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stated, “None of Moser’s objections to our decision today have any merit. For example, Moser claims that he didn’t intend for his spoofing to harm HomeyTel because he thought that the company was no longer using the phone number that he inserted into the caller ID information. But this contention isn’t credible. Moser intentionally chose to use a phone number that he knew belonged to a business rival with whom he had a bitter, litigious history.”