Neo-Nazi robocaller fined $10M after calls targeting Black politicians

Enlarge / Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum addresses an audience on March 20, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Gillum’s campaign was targeted by racist robocalls in 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Saul Martinez )

A neo-Nazi, white-supremacist robocaller who spread “xenophobic fearmongering” and “racist attacks on political candidates” has been ordered to pay a $9.9 million fine for violating the Truth in Caller ID Act, a US law that prohibits manipulation of caller ID numbers with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value. The Federal Communications Commission finalized the fine against Scott Rhodes of Idaho yesterday, nearly one year after the FCC first proposed the penalty.

“This individual made thousands of spoofed robocalls targeting specific communities with harmful pre-recorded messages,” the FCC said in an announcement. “The robocalls included xenophobic fearmongering (including to a victim’s family), racist attacks on political candidates, an apparent attempt to influence the jury in a domestic terrorism case, and threatening language toward a local journalist. The caller used an online calling platform to intentionally manipulate caller ID information so that the calls he was making appeared to come from local numbers—a technique called ‘neighbor spoofing.'”

Rhodes made “4,959 unlawful spoofed robocalls between May 2018 and December 2018,” with several different calling sprees that “targeted voters in districts during political campaigns or residents in communities that had experienced major news events relating to or involving public controversies,” the FCC’s forfeiture order said.

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