Phone company

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein sues phone company over international fraudulent calls

Fraudulent call spoofing the bank’s phone number (Photo: Celeste Smith

RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) — Attorney General Josh Stein is suing a telephone service provider for allegedly facilitating illegal and fraudulent telemarketing calls.

Stein today announced a lawsuit against Articul8 and its owner Paul K. Talbot of Texas for allegedly violating the telemarketing sales rule. According to a press release, over a period of just a few months in 2020 and 2021, Articul8 routed more than 65 million calls to phone numbers in North Carolina – some North Carolinas received between 50 and 200 calls in a single day.

“The only way telemarketers can flood our phones with robocalls is with the complicity of telephone gateway companies,” Attorney General Josh Stein said. “These phone companies turn a blind eye to illegal robocalls in order to make money on every call. It’s wrong. This violates federal and state laws, and I will not tolerate it. That’s why today I’m initiating the groundbreaking lawsuit against Articul8 and its owner.

Attorney General Stein’s lawsuit alleges that since 2015, Articul8 has knowingly enabled domestic and international scammers to route fraudulent calls to millions of people on the US telephone network. The company’s call traffic shows that a high volume of calls it routes go unanswered or last for a short period of time and use high volumes of unique caller ID numbers that do not repeat – all features of spoofed and illegal robocalls.

Articul8 also reportedly routed calls made to numbers in the Do Not Call Registry and from spoofed numbers associated with the Social Security Administration, FBI, and local and state police departments. The calls Articul8 routed to North Carolina residents included government imposter scams, car warranty scams, computer security scams, Amazon imposters, and monthly bill scams, as well as a phone attack on a hospital emergency room.

Stein says Articul8 profited by allowing high call volumes on the US telephone network, while scammers profited by tricking hard workers out of their money. Stein says Articul8 knew what it was doing; it continued to allow these calls even after being tipped off by the telecommunications industry group that tracks suspicious and illegal calls and by federal law enforcement about the calls it was accepting and routing to and from across the country.

In January, Attorney General Stein led a bipartisan group of 51 attorneys general urging the FCC to put in place measures that would stem the tide of illegal foreign calls through gateway providers like Articul8.