AG Yost silences Texas robocallers
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 14, 2023
Over 69 million calls made to Ohioans in 2019, 2020
COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and seven other attorneys general announced two related judgments effectively shutting down a massive robocall operation that bombarded Americans with billions of illicit robocalls, including more than 69 million to Ohioans.
“Stopping annoying robocalls is a lengthy process, but this judgment is a reminder that we can cut them off,” Yost said. “There are enough distractions in life – let’s not let spam callers interrupt our lives anymore.”
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In separate rulings, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas this week imposed a combined monetary judgment of $244,658,640 against John Caldwell Spiller II and his business partner, Jakob Mears.
The men owned Texas-based Rising Eagle Capital Group, JSquared Telecom and Rising Eagle Capital Group-Cayman.
Because of Spiller and Mears’ inability to pay, the judgments will largely be suspended in favor of a permanent operational ban, meaning that neither can initiate or facilitate any robocalls, work for or with companies that make robocalls or engage in any telemarketing.
The court’s decision stems from a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Yost and others in June 2020 citing violations of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the federal Telemarketing Sales Rule, as well as various state consumer-protection laws.
The complaint alleged that Spiller and Mears used the three companies to unleash a barrage of deceptive robocalls, many of them selling bogus extended car warranties and health-care services.
They also “spoofed” calls by manipulating the number that appeared on caller ID to mislead people and called millions of phone numbers on the Do Not Call list.
Specifically, between January and May of 2019 and January and March of 2020, the defendants initiated more than 69 million robocalls to phone numbers associated with Ohio area codes. Of those, roughly 32.3 million were numbers on the Do Not Call list.
Yost and the other attorneys general are continuing cases in this same litigation against Scott Shapiro, Michael Theron Smith Jr. and Health Advisors of America Inc., all of Florida. These defendants allegedly worked with Mears and Spiller to make illegal robocalls targeting people who never asked to be contacted by Health Advisors.
Joining Yost in the announcement were the attorneys general of Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota and Texas.
Consumers who receive unwanted calls can complete an Unwanted Call Notification Form at www.OhioProtects.org. That information will be shared with the Robocall Enforcement Unit, which uses the reports to identify trends and protect Ohioans.