If you receive a call from an unknown number you don't expect to be verbally harassed or mocked by a complete stranger. However, that's precisely what happened to thousands of people in the U.S. states of Idaho, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and Virginia.
One man made over 6,000 robocalls in an attempt to boost his website's publicity and his own notoriety. On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stated it wanted to fine him $12,910,000.
What was the man's intent?
Typically, the FCC handles issues of robocalls that involve shady companies, so this one-person case is quite intriguing. The man took the time to create numerous robocalls to specifically target communities in six states.
Masking his calls to appear as though they were coming from a local number, the man duped many people into picking up their ringing phones.
DMRegister: RT annaspoerre: In 2018, Mollie Tibbetts' family members received robocalls which used the young woman's death to promote deportation of nonwhite immigrants.— Chris Miller (@MilitaryCon_) January 31, 2020
FCC has proposed a $13 million fine against the Utah man behind 800+ calls like tho… https://t.co/Zn8tTYaWts
In its statement, the FCC said that the man was looking to gain "notoriety" and "publicity" for his website and personal brand. With that in mind, all calls had some form of political angle.
One such example was his campaign in 2018 that robocalled 2,023 residents in Charlottesville, Virginia. An ongoing trial of a man charged with murdering a woman by driving his car into a crowd was happening at the time. It appears that the man's calls were attempting to influence the jury's decisions. Comments were made about a racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that blamed local officials for the crime.
FCC proposes $12.9 million fine against neo-Nazi robocaller Scott Rhodes https://t.co/VqSB7MTRQN— Nick Martin (@nickmartin) January 31, 2020
Another campaign included a "caricature of a black dialect" with jungle sounds playing in the background.
All rather bewildering and sad.
What still remains to be seen is whether or not the FCC will manage to claim the money from the person. Unfortunately, the agency doesn't have the most stellar track record of gathering the fines imposed on past robocallers.
The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a nearly $13 million fine against Scott D. Rhodes, a Nazi sympathizer who has plagued communities with racist, anti-Semitic robocalls while living in Sandpoint, Idaho, and Libby, Montana. https://t.co/Q4ZgtQmcVj— SpokesmanReview (@SpokesmanReview) January 30, 2020