San Diego telemarketer fined $10M for spoofed political robocalls

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A San Diego-based telemarketer was fined nearly $10 million on Wednesday for making tens of thousands of spoofed robocalls in 2018 in a California Assembly race, the Federal Communications Commission announced.

The FCC said Kenneth Moser and his company, Marketing Support Systems, sent out 47,610 unlawful robocalls on May 30 and May 31, 2018, about a week before a primary election for the 76th Assembly District.

The calls mentioned accusations by a woman that candidate Philip Graham tried to grope and kiss her in a bar. A San Diego County Sheriff’s Department investigation concluded that the allegations were false and the woman who made them later pleaded guilty to filing a false report.

“Vote carefully on June 5,” the robocalls said. “We don’t need any more creeps in Sacramento.”

Graham is the stepson of former California Gov. Pete Wilson.

The FCC said Moser violated the federal Truth in Caller ID Act by manipulating caller ID information to make it appear the recorded calls were coming from another firm called HomeyTel — a process known as spoofing.

In an email, Moser included his June response to the FCC about the allegations in which he said the $800 order the company received to send out the recorded calls was placed before Graham had been exonerated. Moser also said that he believed HomeyTel had been out of business for years and used its information because his client wished to remain anonymous.

Moser says he doesn’t believe the fine can be enforced without the FCC referring the case to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“However I doubt they would want to touch a political prosecution like this about purportedly harming either a defunct corporation or voters by transmitting someone’s political message not of my making,” Moser wrote.

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