Person holding a phone with IRS on the screen.
Photo: Abdullah Coskun / Anadolu Agency/ Getty Images

Evansville Telecom Sued for Acting As Gateway for Overseas Robocalls

(INDIANAPOLIS) – An Evansville company is a test case for a new approach to getting robocallers to stop pestering you.

Startel operated out of an Evansville trailer home, and is accused of acting as the telecom gateway for scammers in India, Singapore and the Philippines. Attorney General Todd Rokita is suing the company and two California telecom companies under Indiana’s anti-robocall law.

What’s different this time is the three American companies aren’t accused of making robocalls themselves. Rokita says it’s one of the first suits to argue companies can be penalized for acting as telecom gateways to route overseas robocalls to your phone.

Rokita says both his office and telecom industry representatives warned the three companies they were forwarding a greatest-hits lineup of telephone scams: fake IRS and Social Security calls, bogus Apple and Microsoft tech support calls, and calls claiming the recipient was facing an arrest warrant. He charges Startel’s owners ignored those warnings, “for greed.”

Rokita’s suing the companies under Indiana’s robocall law. It’s one of the first cases to target not the callers, but companies which act as middleman.

Rokita accuses the companies of routing hundreds of millions of calls into the U.S., nearly 5 million in Indiana alone. Indiana’s penalties for robocalls are assessed per call, so the potential fines are in the billions.

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