Following an extensive inquiry, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has resolved to enforce a historic $300 million fine against what it considers the most significant illicit robocall operation ever discovered. This substantial penalty sets a new record for the FCC, given the large scale and illegal nature of the robocalling endeavor.
The fine was imposed on a multinational conglomerate of companies involved in the orchestration of a plot that led to over five billion robocalls made to approximately 500 million phone numbers in just three months in 2021. Given that the USA population is around 330 million, it’s highly probable that you were on the receiving end of one or several of these deceptive auto warranty calls. Further, the FCC concluded that the criminal organization breached federal spoofing laws by employing over a million unique caller ID numbers to deceive victims into answering calls. On a lighter note, answering calls is becoming increasingly frustrating.
The long list of infractions continues. The operation, managed by Roy Cox, Jr. and Michael Aaron Jones through their company, Sumco Panama, circumvented restrictions by making unsolicited pre-recorded voice calls to mobile phones, initiating telemarketing calls without permission, and even contacting numbers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry. The unscrupulous group additionally neglected to identify callers at the beginning of conversations and voicemails and declined to provide call-back numbers for consumers to withdraw from future communications. Essentially, they converted 500 million smartphones into fraud devices.
The colossal fine proposed by the FCC was triggered due to the robocalling operation’s severe breach of existing laws. Consumers have portrayed the calls as relentless and intrusive. Shockingly, Sumco Panama even indulged in tactics such as dialing healthcare professionals from falsified hospital numbers. The company also frequently altered its name as necessary to maintain its deception, using titles like Virtual Telecom, Davis Telecom, Geist Telecom, Tech Direct, Posting Express, among others.
As highlighted earlier, the fraudulent entity had been peddling counterfeit auto warranties since 2018. Along with the penalty, Cox and Jones were served with lifetime prohibitions on making telemarketing calls. Last year, the FCC instructed all US voice service providers to stop carrying traffic related to the duo and their associated entities. While the agency offered the parties an opportunity to defend themselves, there has been no response. Failure to pay the mammoth fine promptly will result in the case being forwarded to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about FCC $300 Million Fine
Who has the FCC fined and why?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined an international network of companies, led by Roy Cox, Jr. and Michael Aaron Jones via their Sumco Panama company, for operating the largest illegal robocall operation the agency has ever encountered. The entities are fined for making over five billion robocalls to approximately 500 million phone numbers in just three months in 2021, selling fake auto warranties and violating federal spoofing laws.
What is the amount of the fine imposed by the FCC?
The FCC has imposed a record-setting fine of $300 million, marking the largest penalty of its kind in the history of the FCC.
What happens if the fine is not paid promptly?
If the fine is not paid in a timely manner, the matter will be referred to the U.S. Department of Justice.
What were the violations committed by the operation?
The operation violated multiple regulations, including making unsolicited pre-recorded voice calls to mobile phones, initiating telemarketing calls without permission, and contacting numbers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry. The group also failed to identify callers at the beginning of conversations and voicemails and declined to provide call-back numbers for consumers to withdraw from future communications.
What were the consequences besides the fine?
In addition to the penalty, the FCC issued lifetime bans against Cox and Jones preventing them from making any telemarketing calls. Furthermore, all US voice service providers were instructed last year to stop carrying traffic related to the pair and their entities.
Has the accused responded to the charges?
As of now, the accused parties have been given an opportunity to defend themselves, but they haven’t responded.
What other deceptive practices were used by the operation?
The operation engaged in various deceptive practices including calling healthcare professionals from spoofed hospital numbers and changing its company name frequently to maintain the deception. Some of the names used include Virtual Telecom, Davis Telecom, Geist Telecom, Tech Direct, and Posting Express.