man screaming at robocaller

Disturbing robocaller fined $9.9 million

A federal court in Montana has fined a man $9.9 million after he was found responsible for causing thousands of unlawful and malicious spoofed robocalls.

Sometimes there is good news. Well, for almost everybody except for the robocaller who was found guilty of unlawful robocalls to people in states including Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa and Virginia in 2018. The court also imposed an injunction prohibiting any future violations of the Truth in Caller ID Act and Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Scott Rhodes spoofed his telephone number, so it appeared to his targets that he was calling from a local phone number. If they picked up, they were presented with recorded messages. Those messages included highly inflammatory and disturbing content, often directed at certain communities, that intended to offend or harm the recipients.

Those messages typically addressed tragic and controversial events that took place in the region. Many consumers who received the calls found the calls so disturbing, they submitted complaints to FCC and other law enforcement regarding unwanted and harassing robocalls.

The FCC traced the unlawful spoofed robocalls to Scott Rhodes, a resident of Idaho and Montana, and in January 2021, the FCC imposed a $9,918,000 forfeiture penalty against Rhodes. In September 2021, the Justice Department sued Rhodes in the District of Montana to recover that penalty and obtain an injunction.

In October 2023, the United States moved for summary judgment, and the court subsequently entered an injunction and the full $9,918,000 forfeiture penalty against Rhodes, after concluding based on a de novo review of the evidence that Rhodes committed the violations found by FCC. When a court hears a case as “de novo,” it is deciding the issues without reference to any legal conclusion or assumption made by the previous court to hear the case.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division commented:

“The department is committed to protecting consumers from deceptive robocalls. We are very pleased by the court’s judgment, and we will continue working with the FCC and other agency partners to vigorously enforce the telemarketing laws that prohibit these practices.”

Earlier this year we reported that the FCC efforts seem to be paying off, by showing an encouraging decline in robocalls.

Last year, another robocaller made headlines after the FCC issued a $300 million forfeiture to a persistent offender and shut down their operation.

What to do if you answer a robocall

When you receive a call from someone outside your contact list only to hear a recorded message playing back at you, that’s a robocall.

  1. Hang up as soon as you realize that it is an automated robocall.
  2. Do not engage with the call at all.
  3. Don’t follow any instructions.
  4. Avoid giving away any personal information.
  5. Report the robocall.
    • If you’ve lost money to a phone scam or have information about the company or scammer who called you, tell the FTC at
    • If you didn’t lose money and just want to report a call, use the streamlined reporting form at
    • If you believe you received an illegal call or text, report it to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

It is important to not engage in any conversation or respond to any prompts to minimize the risk of fraud. Even the smallest snippets of your voice being recorded, can be used in scams against you or your loved ones.

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Pieter Arntz

Malware Intelligence Researcher

Was a Microsoft MVP in consumer security for 12 years running. Can speak four languages. Smells of rich mahogany and leather-bound books.