Attorney General Todd Rokita has filed a lawsuit against an Indiana company that allegedly acted as a gateway into the United States for robocallers in India, the Philippines and Singapore. The company, Startel Communication LLC, was owned and operated in Evansville by Wanda Hall and Abhijit Chowdhury, an Indian national.
These robocallers allegedly made over 4.8 million phone calls to Hoosiers and hundreds of millions of calls to other states across the United States. The robocallers allegedly operated a variety of scams, including IRS and Social Security Administration imposter scams, legal action or arrest scams, computer support scams, Apple support scams, and Amazon subscription scams.
“Hoosiers are sick and tired of being harassed by illegal and unwanted robocalls, and Kathy and I are two of them,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Just as I promised, we will stay on the offense in our efforts to protect Indiana consumers and bring these people to justice.”
This lawsuit is part of Attorney General Rokita’s crackdown on providers that knowingly profit from robocalls. The investigation started with a few consumer complaints and took over a year to complete.
The suit also includes two California companies — Piratel LLC, which routed 3.1 million of the robocalls, and VoIP Essential LLC, which routed 1.5 million of the robocalls. Both companies knew Startel was sending robocalls, and they were each paid more than $100,000 to look the other way.
Of the Hoosiers who were called, more than 780,000 of them were on the federal Do Not Call Registry and over 605,000 were on the Indiana Do Not Call list.
The lawsuit alleges the companies and individuals committed millions of violations of federal and Indiana law, with potential fines in the billions.
Attorney General Rokita offers the following tips to avoid scams and unwanted calls:
- Be wary of callers who specifically ask you to pay by gift card or crypto-currency (Bitcoin). For example, the IRS does not accept iTunes gift cards.
- Look out for prerecorded calls from government agencies you were not expecting. Typically, the IRS and SSA do not call people.
- If you suspect fraudulent activity, do not provide any personal information and end the call.
- Contact the Consumer Protection Division at 1-888-834-9969 or email@example.com.
- Add your number to the Indiana Do Not Call List at https://www.indonotcall.org/
- File a Do Not Call or Text complaint here: https://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/consumer-protection-division/file-a-complaint/do-not-calltext-complaint/