Friday, December 23, 2022
The FCC wants to fine a pair of California residents $300 million for using billions of robocalls to try and scam Americans.
The penalty targets a robocall operation that the FCC sourced back to Roy Cox, Jr. and Aaron Michael Jones, who allegedly used their “Sumco Panama” company to bombard US consumers with eight billion robocalls since at least 2018.
“Today’s proposed fine is the largest such action in the FCC’s history largely because the FCC found that the robocallers met the agency’s criteria for egregious violations,” the US regulator said.
According to the FCC, the robocall operation pushed a scam that falsely claimed the consumer’s auto warranty(Opens in a new window) was about to expire. The robocalls would then offer a chance to speak with a specialist about extending the warranty. But in reality, the robocalls were likely designed to trick people into handing over their personal information for fraud purposes, or duping them into making a payment, the FCC said.
In July, the US regulator took action by forcing voice and phone providers to block funneling calls from the robocall operation, which crippled the scam’s call volume. On Wednesday, the FCC then voted to further penalize Cox and Jones for spearheading the scams, saying the automated calls violated federal laws against phone spoofing and robocalling.
“We propose the largest forfeiture in our history —nearly $300 million— against the perpetrators of this complex scheme, which includes entities based in Hungary and Panama,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Roscenworcel said in a statement.
However, the fine isn’t final yet. Cox and Jones will be given a chance to respond and dispute the proposed penalty, along with the evidence backing it up. The previous record holder for largest FCC fine appears to be a $225 million penalty, which was also issued against a robocall operation, but in Texas.
To further crackdown on the problem, the FCC has also opened a new internet portal(Opens in a new window), where private companies and individuals can alert the US regulator about suspected robocalls. “This new tool will help us support companies and businesses that see their phone lines jammed with robocalls or their valuable and hard-won brand awareness undercut by scammers spoofing their numbers,” said FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Loyaan Egal in a statement.
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