FCC fines former Sandpoint man nearly $10 million for racist and anti-Semitic robocalls
WASHINGTON D.C. — A former Sandpoint man has been fined nearly $10 million for making thousands of racist and anti-Semitic robocalls.
The Federal Communications Commission found Scott Rhodes illegally used caller ID spoofing with the intent to cause harm. The FCC said his robocalls, which were made across six states, including Idaho, included xenophobic fearmongering (including to a victim’s family), racist attacks on political candidates, an apparent attempt to influence the jury in a domestic terrorist case and threatening language toward a local journalist.
“The law is clear: spoofed caller ID robocalls used with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or cheat recipients is unlawful. And the American people are sick and tired of it. In this instance, not only were the calls unlawful, but the caller took them to new levels of egregiousness,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “With today’s fine, we once again make clear our commitment to aggressively go after those who are unlawfully bombarding the American people with spoofed robocalls.”
The FCC said Rhodes made 750 spoofed robocalls to Sandpoint residents in September 2018. Earlier that year, Sandpoint Police had identified Rhodes as the person responsible for racist flyers and hate mail appearing around town and on cars at Sandpoint High School.
The FCC also found Rhodes made 827 robocalls in Iowa following the murder of Mollie Tibbits, a college student killed by an undocumented immigrant. Rhodes was found to have made calls to Tibbetts’ family, friends and close-knit community two days after her funeral. The calls contained prerecorded messages and a woman’s voice apparently intended to impersonate Tibbetts saying “kill them all”—the “them” referring to undocumented immigrants from Mexico.
Rhodes was also found to have made spoofed robocalls to people in Charlottesville, Virginia based on a false conspiracy theory in an attempt to influence the jury in the murder trial of James Fields. Fields was charged with murdering Heather Heyer by driving a car into a crowd of protesters.
Rhodes now has 30 days to pay the fine. If he does not pay it in time, the FCC will refer the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice for further action.
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