(AP) — The U.S. communications regulator on Tuesday proposed a $225 million fine, its largest ever, against two health insurance telemarketers for spamming people with 1 billion robocalls using fake phone numbers.
The Federal Communications Commission said John Spiller and Jakob Mears made the calls through two businesses that purported to sell products from major insurers but actually worked on behalf of other companies.
State attorneys general of Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas also sued the two men and their companies, Rising Eagle and JSquared Telecom, in federal court in Texas, where both men live, for violating the federal law governing telemarketing, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
According to the FCC, the robocalls offered plans from insurers like Aetna and UnitedHealth with an automated message. But if consumers pressed a button for more information, they were forwarded to a call center that sold plans that weren't connected to the insurers.
Consumers weren't the only ones annoyed by the calls. The companies advertised in the fake calls also received angry calls and were the target of lawsuits from consumers.