Cell Phone with robocalls on caller ID

FILE - This Aug. 1, 2017, file photo, shows a call log displayed via an AT&T app on a cellphone. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita filed a federal lawsuit against Indiana company called Startel Communication after investigators tracked millions of the robocalls calls to a trailer in Evansville.

Rokita said the company is owned and operated by two people who had a high-tech system inside the trailer. But he said the state's high-tech system to find them was even better.

"The individuals are Wanda Hall and an Indian national by the name Abhijit Chowdhury," Rokita said. "They have concocted a plan to use that trailer as a gateway opening to calls from the U.S from overseas.

"It went from places like Singapore, Philipines, India, Evansville, Indiana, through California vendors who shipped these calls all around Indiana and the U.S. ... We got them. We are suing them. If you are going to do this, you do it now with a lot of risk."

Rokita said the company is no longer in business, and the owners took off. This lawsuit is the first of its kind in the nation.

During the year-and-a-half investigation, the state said these robocallers are accused of making more than 4.8 million phone calls to Hoosiers and hundreds of millions of calls to other states. 

"In southern Indiana and the Louisville Metro area ... we have tracked at least 275,000 of these illegal robocalls," Rokita said. "Each of the calls carries significant fines for federal and state laws."

Many of the people the telemarketers were calling were on the federal and state "Do Not Call" lists.

It's a civil case, but state officials are looking at what can be done about criminal charges.

"You are looking at fines in the billions of dollars, but it all started and stops right here in Indiana," Rokita said.

The lawsuit says two California companies, Piratel LLC, which routed 3.1 million robocalls, and VoIP Essential LLC, with 1.5 million robocalls, knew Startel was sending robocalls. The lawsuit alleges those companies were each paid $100,000 to look the other way.

Rokita's office said Startel operated its headquarters out of three Evansville locations.

  • HQ1 = 2911 South Saint James, Evansville, Ind. 47714
  • HQ2 = 2030 Covert Ave., Unit B, Evansville, Ind. 47714
  • HQ3 = 1150 S Bedford Ave., Evansville, Ind. 47713

Rokita's office released these 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.

 

Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.