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White Supremacist Robocaller Fined $10 Million For Faking Caller ID

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 16 Jan 2021 18:59
White Supremacist Robocaller Fined $10 Million For Faking Caller IDPixabay/PA Images

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is fining a white supremacist robocaller nearly $10 million for spoof calls.

The hefty fine comes after the man spread ‘xenophobic fearmongering’ and ‘racist attacks on political candidates’, something which breaks the US’s Truth in Caller ID Act.

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The law prohibits the manipulation of caller ID ‘with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value’.

Yesterday, January 15, the FFC fined the man behind it all, Scott Rhodes, for the calls he made between May 2018 and December 2018. The total fine he’s facing is $9.9 million.

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Following the fine being finalised against Rhodes, the FFC issued a statement that read:

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[Rhodes] made thousands of spoofed robocalls targeting specific communities with harmful pre-recorded messages. 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 in eight months, Arstechnica reports. Over the duration of this time, Rhodes reportedly targeted voters in districts during political campaigns or residents in communities that had experienced major news events relating to or involving public controversies.

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The FFC describes Rhodes as being ‘motivated by an intent to cause harm to these communities and gain media notoriety and publicity for his website and personal brand’.

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It added:

In Iowa, he spoofed a local number to robocall residents of the town of Brooklyn and surrounding areas with xenophobic messages referring to the arrest of an illegal alien for the murder of a local college student. In Idaho, he robocalled residents of the city of Sandpoint, attacking the local newspaper and its publisher after they reported the identity of the caller.

The FFC added, ‘In Virginia, he made spoofed robocalls to residents of Charlottesville based on a false conspiracy theory in an apparent attempt to influence the jury in the murder trial of James Fields, prompting the judge to explicitly instruct the jury pool to ignore the calls.’

Rhodes’ fine was originally set at $12.9 million, but has since been reduced to $9.9 million.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Technology

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Arstechnica and 1 other
  1. Arstechnica

    FCC fines white-supremacist robocaller $10 million for faking caller ID

  2. FCC

    FCC Fines Robocaller Scott Rhodes Nearly $10M for Illegal Spoofing