Rutledge Files Federal Lawsuit Against Texas Companies Behind Billions of Illegal Robocalls
June 9, 2020
Telephone records indicate they made tens of millions of calls to Arkansans
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and six other state attorneys general filed suit today against a group of Texas businesses accused of blasting billions of illegal robocalls nationwide over the past two years. Telephone records indicate tens of millions of these calls have been made to Arkansans alone. The federal lawsuit alleges that Rising Eagle Capital Group LLC and JSquared Telecom LLC are behind a tidal wave of robocalls offering fake extended car warranties and health care services. John Spiller II, owner of the businesses, and his business partner, Jakob Mears, are also named as defendants.
“Companies like Rising Eagle and JSquared aren’t just a nuisance, they can ruin someone’s entire life by illegally obtaining their personal information,’ says Rutledge. “With this lawsuit, I intend to stop these defendants from continuing to plague consumers with incessant and illegal robocalls and ensure they will pay the highest penalties allowed by law for all the harm they have inflicted on Arkansans.”
Attorneys general from Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas jointly allege that Rising Eagle and JSquared violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and each state also alleges violations of its respective consumer protection laws. The TCPA violations include telephone solicitations to consumers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry, illegally using a pre-recorded message to residential and cellular telephones without the prior express consent of the consumer, failing to provide the required identity of the entity responsible for the call, and for displaying a misleading or inaccurate name or number on consumers’ caller ID. For the TCPA violations, the states seek a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendants from further violating the TCPA, a $1,500 penalty for each TCPA violation committed willfully and knowingly and a $500 penalty for each violation found not to be willful or knowing.
The Arkansas state law violations alleged in the complaint consist of displaying fictitious or misleading name or number on an Arkansas residence’s caller ID in violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and the Regulation of Telephonic Sellers (RTS) and additional RTS violations for failing to register as a telephonic seller with the Secretary of State, failing to provide the required disclosures to consumers for telephone solicitations, and failing to discontinue calls when consumers indicated they were not interested in the goods or services being offered. The state seeks a permanent injunction from further violations of the ADPTA and RTS, up to $10,000 civil penalty for each ADTPA violation, up to $10,000 civil penalty for each RTS violation, and attorneys’ fees and costs.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for Southern Texas located in Houston, TX.
In addition to the states’ case, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today announced its own legal action against Rising Eagle, JSquared, Spiller and Mears.
“Spoofed robocalls are a major problem for consumers across the country,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “I’m grateful to have partners like these state attorneys general as we fight on behalf of American consumers. We are making it clear that scamming consumers and—as we saw in this case—tricking them into buying products under false pretenses cannot and will not go unchecked. That is why the FCC and state officials are standing together and taking strong action to protect the American public from the scourge of spoofed robocalls.”
Rutledge has led the national effort demanding a stronger oversight from the FCC by collaborating with the private sector to aggressively block illegal robocalls before they reach consumers. In August 2019, Rutledge was also instrumental in developing the Anti-Robocall Principles for telecoms to reduce the number of unwanted and illegal robocalls reaching the American people.
In Arkansas, Rutledge continues to lead the fight against robocalls by working with stakeholders to implement Acts 677 and 1074 of 2019 requiring telecommunication providers to submit annual reports to the Arkansas Public Service Commission to certify that all available and applicable technology is being employed to identify and block illegal robocalls and spoofing.