FCC proposes $82M fine for health insurance telemarketer over illegal robocalls

The FCC accused Philip Roesel of using "spoofing" to sell health insurance.

— -- The FCC has proposed today a fine of more than $82 million against a North Carolina man and his insurance company that, it says, made more than 21 million illegal robocalls nationwide in an effort to sell health insurance.

"In December 2016, a medical paging provider called Spok complained to Commission staff that robocalling campaigns were disrupting its network. Using information provided by Spok to connect these calls to Mr. Roesel, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau subpoenaed Mr. Roesel's call records from October 2016 through January 2017," the FCC said. "Based on these records, FCC investigators verified 82,106 health insurance telemarketing calls made during that time used falsified caller ID information. These calls are the basis for today's proposed fine."

The FCC said the Truth in Caller ID Act prohibits callers from deliberately falsifying caller ID information -- called "spoofing" -- to disguise their identity with the intent to harm, defraud consumers, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.

Officials said Roesel and his company especially targeted the elderly, sick and poor as well.

"Mr. Roesel was responsible for more than 200,000 robocalls a day -- 21.5 million altogether," said FCC chairman Ajit Pai. "The record shows that he instructed his employees which consumers to pick on. As Commissioner Clyburn pointed out, his victim was 'the dumber and more broke the better.' He was even quoted as repeatedly bragging and 'joking' to coworkers that his actions were minor legal violations, akin to driving above the speed limit."

Attempts to reach Roesel and his company were unsuccessful.