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FCC Fines Telemarketer $10 Million for Caller ID Spoofing

a vintage looking "Greetings from San Diego, California" postcard

Mon, 11/23/2020 - 13:34

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) levied an enormous fine against a San Diego-based telemarketer for violations of the Truth in Caller ID Act. The $10 million fine arises from a robocall campaign related to a 2018 election for a seat in the California Assembly.

The FCC announced that Ken Moser and his company, Marketing Support Systems, made 47,610 spoofed robocalls with the caller ID altered to show the phone number of a rival telemarketing company, HomeyTel Inc. The content of those calls were false accusations of sexual harassment against a California Assembly candidate. The deceit was successful as the rival company received numerous complaints from the public and a cease and desist letter from the candidate.

Marketing Support Systems and HomeyTel had been involved in a lawsuit against each other in 2013. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai explained the fine, writing that “Moser intentionally chose to use a phone number he knew belonged to a business rival with whom he had a bitter, litigious history. One would have to be rather naïve to think that this was not done with the intent to cause harm.” First passed in 2009, the Truth in Caller ID Act bans the use of caller ID spoofing with the intent to "with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.”

Moser has 30 days to pay the fine.