FCC intends to fine man $120 million for making over 96 million robocalls

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/06/23/fcc-intends-to-fine-man-120-m.html

Nice to find out Pai does have limits.


Well yeah, it affected a Telco’s network. How abhorrent.


Yep, the man’s bottom-feeding pond-life. But is the best strategy to threaten him with a fine of a trillion, squillion dollars and a thousand life sentences in the hope of plea bargaining?

US legal looks pretty weird from here. Much as I would like to see them shut the likes of him away, and in an act of enlightened penology, throw away the key, this doesn’t seem quite right either.

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If you “only” fine them thousands of dollars, well they made more then that with their scam. It amounts to a tax, a tax many people with questionable morals may be willing to pay ("so I can live high on the hog, and if the piper comes due, just give him a months profit? I’m in!). If you fine them enough to bankrupt the business that was based on illegal practices anyway, then you at least send the message “if we catch you, it’s over”.

You need to be careful with fines on profitable illegal practices. They have to actually exceed the value of the practice!


Does a prolonged custodial sentence really seem so inappropriate for a guy with a long and prolific history of fraud?

White collar crime isn’t as blood spattered as some of the alternatives; but it is amply dangerous in the context of a society with structures to subvert; and the people who commit it are exactly the ones who would view fines as just a cost of doing business.

Barring advances in rehabilitation bordering on neural resocialization, this fellow seems like an excellent candidate for direct, non financial, punishment of substantial severity.

(edit: it seems worth noting that, per Arstechnica, this gentleman has spawned 12 transient and mysterious Florida corporations over the past couple of decades, so odds are good that this isn’t his first experience with “sunny place for shady people” work.)


I see nothing whatsoever wrong with confiscating any proceeds from the illegal phonecalls, and maybe using them to make the system more robust in case of assholes like this.

None of this would be possible if there was a real names policy for Caller ID.

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My guess is that he will get to keep his Florida mansion and most of his money, and will continue to scam people. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a Mar a Lago membership.


“If they catch you it’s over” is still not good enough. They expect that.

He only got caught because TripAdvisor got pissed off. The telecoms aren’t interested in investigating - they profit from it. The FCC isn’t interested - they are defunded.

The WORST possible downside is that he starts over tomorrow under a different name, and leaves TripAdvisor off his list of fake clients. Zero reason to quit.


I would receive about 10 calls a week on my cell from this scam. Almost always from my local exchange. Fuck this guy.


There’s not one because it breaks PBXes.

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That’s part of it: you can only fake CID with numbers already registered to you. So companies can have a single number that they display when calling, but whatever number someone uses for that, it has to point to the same entity.

It’s not the size of the fine I find odd. If he is guilty, then it has to be enough to stop what he is doing, bearing in mind he may have salted away the profits in all kinds of ways. The thing that gets me uneasy is the calculation and the posting of the proposed fine before the case - in other cases the worst case prison sentence - so the lawyers on both sides can estimate their fees, or pitch for a plea bargain, or what?

The nearest I can think of in Europe was the Formula-1 bribery case in 2014. Bernie Ecclestone paid $100 million to have the case closed against him without going to court. It is clear he was guilty to some degree, and the result is a compromise between what the German courts think he ought to pay, and what they are practically likely to get, given that the sums will attract the high-rolling lawyers. Both sides had to haggle, and quote real figures. This was not great. I think it was a compromise that worked at the time, but I would not like it to become a regular thing.

“Your Honor, you too could be living the good life in a time share in beautiful, sunny Florida…”


Chances are the fine is mechanical. They determined he committed a specific violation X number of times and the rule is that each violation is a fine of Y dollars.

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