The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) handed down a landmark $225 million fine to Texas-based telemarketers on Wednesday– the largest fine the agency has ever charged robocallers in its history.

John C. Spiller and Jakob A. Mears were fined after making about 1 billion robocalls from spoofed numbers to short-sell limited-duration health insurance plans that claimed to be from well-known health insurance companies.

The men operated under the business names Rising Eagle and JSquared Telecom, making spoof calls across the country throughout the first four and half months of 2019, the FCC said. At this time, the agency received an excessive number of consumer complaints about robocalls related to health insurance and other healthcare-related products.

Since 2018, the FCC said it found that as many as 23.6 million health insurance telemarketing calls were made across the four largest wireless carriers each day. Rising Eagle was responsible for a large portion of these robocalls, the FCC has claimed.

Spiller admitted to making millions of spoofed calls, where the caller ID is manipulated to show a phone number from a nearby location, each day. He also acknowledged that he knowingly called consumers on Do Not Call lists because he believed that they were a more profitable target group of consumers.

According to USA Today, during the calls, consumers would be asked if they were interested in “affordable health insurance” from companies that included Aetna, Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and United Healthcare.

When the call recipient pressed "3," they were then transferred to a call center that was not affiliated with any of the insurance companies, USA Today said.

Rising Eagle also made calls on behalf of its clients, including its largest, Health Advisors of America, which was sued by the Missouri Attorney General in February 2019 for telemarketing violations.

The FCC said that Rising Eagle violated the Truth in Caller ID Act, which “prohibits manipulating caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.” As a result of its investigation, the FCC found that Rising Eagle deceived customers through the robocalls, causing at least one company, which it spoofed its phone number, to receive an overwhelming number of consumer complaints.

Beyond the fine that was issued, the FCC has also warned six other telemarketing firms about making robocalls by issuing a series of cease-and-desist letters for a series of telemarketing scams that range from COVID-19 schemes to posing as the Social Security Administration and debt reduction services, USA Today said.

In a statement about the cease-and-desist letters obtained by the news outlet, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel warned, “Today’s cease-and-desist letters should serve as a warning sign to other entities that believe the FCC has turned a blind eye to this issue. We certainly haven’t and we’re coming for you.”

In total, the FCC has fined telemarketers $450 million over the years for robocall violations, NBC News reported. To combat the issue of robocalls, the FCC has formed a Robocall Response Team with 51 members from the agency.

Telemarketers Telemarketers are seen working in a call center in Manizales, Caldas Department, Colombia in Sept. 20, 2011. Photo: Getty Images/AFP/GUILLERMO LEGARIA