Company sued for allegedly funneling 4.8 million scam robocalls to Indiana residents




  • In Business
  • 2021-10-16 19:12:51Z
  • By USA TODAY

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is suing an Indiana telecommunications company for its alleged role in overseeing more than 4.8 million scam calls.

Startel Communication worked with two companies in California to flood residents in Indiana with automated calls from India, the Philippines and Singapore.

Startel was run by Indiana resident Wanda Hall and Indian national Abhijit Chowdhury before it went out of business in September following the state's investigation, according to the attorney general's office.

The calls promoted an array of scams around computer support, Amazon subscriptions, the Social Security Administration and COVID-19, the state's lawsuit says. Startel continued facilitating those calls despite warnings from a telecoms industry watchdog that the calls were illegal under federal law.

"Hoosiers are sick and tired of being harassed by illegal and unwanted robocalls, and Kathy and I are two of them," Rokita said in a prepared statement Thursday, referring to his wife. "Just as I promised, we will stay on the offense in our efforts to protect Indiana consumers and bring these people to justice."

FILE - This Aug.
FILE - This Aug.  

In total the defendants produced millions of violations of Indiana and federal law, according to Rokita's office. Fines against them could total billions of dollars if approved by federal court, and restitution for anyone scammed could be a possibility down the line.

The office said it is currently unclear how many were tricked into providing money or personal information in response to the calls.

The Indianapolis Star, a part of the USA TODAY Network, left a voicemail with a phone number associated with Hall but did not receive a response.

How to fight robocalls

The Federal Communications Commission advises consumers:

  • not to answer calls from unknown numbers

  • never to give out personal information such as account numbers, passwords, or mothers' maiden names, for example

  • to hang up if a caller claims to be representing a company or agency and contact the entity directly

  • to speak with your phone provider about robocall blocking technology

  • to register your number on the federal Do Not Call List to block calls from telemarketers

Contributing: Donovan Slack, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: 4.8 million scam robocalls trigger lawsuit against Indiana company

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