CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) – Prosecutors say pesky robocalls have changed the way we use our phones.
For example, many of us don’t even answer the phone if we don’t know the number calling.
State leaders are holding a group of people accountable for sending out those illegal calls to Ohioans.
In the suit, prosecutors at the Attorney General’s office say, “We have come to the point where people will ignore calls from unknown numbers, even in emergent situations when answering the phone could save their lives.”
If you have a phone, you’ve likely gotten the call we’re about to describe.
It’s the one about your supposed “car warranty.”
The Ohio Attorney General’s office filed a federal lawsuit this month, accusing eight people of working with 14 companies to send out billions of robo calls since 2018.
Prosecutors say they were working out of state, sometimes based in Nevada, California and Wyoming and also outside the country in places like Hungary and Panama.
The suit alleges companies were paying the people behind the robo calls to generate sales leads for them.
When someone engages with the robo call, they are transferred to an agent in relation to the sale of “Vehicle Service Contracts, that are deceptively marketed as “car warranty” plans.
Even if you didn’t purchase a supposed warranty, the calls often became abusive, annoying and a waste of time.
One Ohioan’s complaint he filed with the FTC is included in the lawsuit.
He wrote, “I’ve repeatedly elected the DO NOT CALL option, but they keep calling from new number each time. The number is legitimate – if you call it back, you get their recording. Please make it stop. It’s several times per day.”
Another Ohio resident, who said they’d already requested to be on the “do not call” list, filed two complaints with the FTC. The second said, “Second time I had to do a call back to request my number be removed from their list. I have no warranties on any of my vehicles, never have I had any warranties on my vehicles. They have been calling me while at work mostly, never leave voicemails, always using VoIPs which I block from my phone and they call from another VoIP number. These calls NEED TO STOP, I’m beyond annoyed with them and these are clearly scam calls.”
The lawsuit says the callers got around people’s efforts to block their calls by purchasing “massive quantities” of “unique phone numbers.”
So, if you blocked one number, they’d just use another one to get through to you.
Prosecutors say the callers would also spoof area codes so it looks like someone is calling from your town.
The Ohio Attorney General created a robocall enforcement unit in 2020, and our partners at the Scam Squad say this suit is proof its work has really paid off.
According to the AG’s the unit has received 1,600 complaints about unwanted calls like the one in this story.
In a related robocall action the attorney general says his office settled with a company that was carrying the illegal robocalls for criminals. That company agreed to pay the state 20 thousand dollars in the case.
Consumers who receive unwanted calls can complete an Unwanted Call Notification Form at www.OhioProtects.org. That information will be shared with the Robocall Enforcement Unit, which uses the reports to identify trends and protect other Ohioans.
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