by Kelley Drye & Warren LLP
The Federal Communications Commission, at its July 14, 2022 Open Meeting, issued one of its largest proposed fines ever against an individual and his companies that engaged in conduct that violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Commission's rules prohibiting prerecorded voice message calls. The Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) proposed a penalty of $116,156,250 against Thomas Dorsher and his companies ChariTel Inc., Ontel, Inc. and ScammerBlaster, for sending 9,763,599 prerecorded voice message calls to toll free (8YY) numbers without consent of the called parties.
The Commission's NAL outlines a brazen scheme by Dorsher using his business relationship with a Local Exchange Carrier to originate telephone calls to 8YY numbers for the primary purpose of generating revenue from long distance carriers whose toll free customers received these calls. Under this scheme, Dorsher caused millions of calls to be placed with a prerecorded self-proclaimed "Public Service Announcement" warning toll free customers about the dangers of illegal robocalls, and directing recipients to report robocalls to the FCC, phone companies, and the Dorsher entities' website. The calls were placed between January 1, 2021 and March 2, 2021.