Wilmington man faces proposed $82M fine from FCC for illegal robocalls
Posted August 4
Wilmington, N.C. — A Wilmington man is facing a proposed $82 million fine for allegedly making more than 21 million illegally spoofed robocalls through a health insurance telemarketing company.
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday proposed the $82,106,000 fine against Philip Roesel for violating the Truth in Caller ID Act. The law prohibits callers from deliberately falsifying caller ID information to hide their identities with intent to harm, defraud or wrongfully obtain anything of value, according to the FCC.
The practice of hiding a caller ID is called spoofing.
In a news release, the FCC said Roesel, the owner of Best Insurance Contracts, apparently made millions of robocalls to consumers around the country. The FCC said Roesel displayed false caller ID information in an effort to sell health insurance, "which especially targeted vulnerable consumers, including the elderly, the infirm, and low-income families."
The FCC was alerted to the calls when another company complained in Dec. 2016 that the robocalls were disrupting its network. The FCC then subpoenaed Roesel's call records from Oct. 2016 through Jan. 2017 and verified more than 82,000 health insurance telemarketing calls used falsified caller ID information.
In a statement, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Roesel was responsible for more than 200,000 robocalls a day over that time period, which totaled 21.5 million calls.
"Bad stuff, as far as it goes," Pai said in the statement. "Perhaps worse is the gall he evidently paired with his gumption. The record shows that he instructed his employees which consumers to pick on: 'The dumber and more broke the better.' He was even quoted as repeatedly bragging and 'joking' to co-workers that his actions were minor legal violations, akin to driving above the speed limit."