On December 13, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (“NAL”) against Kenneth Moser and his telemarketing company, Marketing Support Systems (“MSS”), proposing a fine of $9,997,750 for allegedly transmitting more than 47,000 unlawful spoofed robocalls. The calls were made over a two-day period in May 2018, one week before California’s primary election. The calls consisted of prerecorded voice messages that contained false allegations about a candidate that had been investigated and disproven by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Although the calls were initiated by Moser and his company, they appeared to originate from the telephone number of a rival, HomeyTel. The FCC alleged that Moser arranged to display HomeyTel’s telephone number as the caller ID information in violation of the Truth in Caller ID Act. Apparently, Moser and HomeyTel were involved in lawsuits against one another other pertaining to Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) violations. As a result of these spoofed calls, HomeyTel rather than Moser or MSS received a “multitude of complaints” from recipients and a cease-and-desist letter from the candidate.
The FCC claims that these calls violated the Truth in Caller ID Act, which prohibits callers from knowingly transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value, and authorizes the FCC to propose monetary forfeitures for violations.
Separately but relatedly, the FCC also issued a Citation and Order against Moser and MSS to notify them that their conduct also violated the TCPA’s prohibition against transmitting prerecorded voice calls to mobile telephone numbers without recipient consent, and its prerecorded call disclosure requirements. By issuing this Citation and Order, the FCC can now propose monetary forfeitures against Moser for these TCPA violations if they occur again.
This case reflects the FCC’s current enforcement policy against vendors that fail to comply with applicable telemarketing laws and regulations. Those active in sponsoring call campaigns and using such vendors should take steps to ensure that they are aware of, and are complying with, all applicable federal and state telemarketing laws.