Scamming 'Your Warranty Will Expire' Calls Lead to Lawsuits

"I've received two or three in the past two weeks. The office gets at least one weekly," she said.

"It's really annoying. It's just frustrating. I usually hang up," she said.

Investigators say determining who is behind the calls is difficult. Some companies use false names and mask their phone numbers so recipients can't call back.

The Indiana case, like a similar ongoing case brought against another company by the Missouri attorney general, are both civil cases.

Many of the companies behind the calls are believed to be based in Missouri.

No criminal fraud charges have been brought against any of these companies, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

"Indiana has fairly robust telephone privacy laws," said Molly Butters, spokeswoman for the Indiana attorney general. "Under the state's auto-dialer laws, recipients must opt in and consent to receiving prerecorded messages. We believe these companies also violated the law by calling people on the Do Not Call list."

The Indiana case prosecutes two companies, SVM Inc. based in California, Fortress Secured Inc., based in Nevada, and an individual named Mike Moneymaker, who according to the lawsuit lives in California.

A representative for SVM, who would not give his name, declined to comment, saying only, "We are unable to talk to you."

ABC was unable to locate Mike Moneymaker, who is identified by three other aliases in the lawsuit. Fortress Secured is reportedly no longer in business and is run by Moneymaker.

Moneymaker and Fortress Secured are both also named in a cease-and-desist order filed by the North Dakota attorney general. Moneymaker is listed under an additional alias in that case.

In addition to the states taking legal action, Verizon, one of the country's largest telecommunications company, has also sued the telemarketers. In April, Verizon settled with one company for $50,000.

The Federal Trade Commission says it receives several hundred complaints a month about the calls, but could not comment on them specifically because they are under investigation.

Michael Tankersley, an attorney for the FTC, said the companies take multiple steps to cover their tracks, making them difficult to track down.

"There are a number of things that make it difficult to prosecute these cases. It appears to be not any one entity behind the calls, but a large number of separate entities that have campaigns that are similar. That makes it frustrating for consumers and difficult to trace calls," he said.

Tankersley said under federal law the companies are required to identify themselves. Many companies, he said, use technology that masks or changes the number from where the calls are being placed when they appear on caller ID, which is also a violation of federal law.

Simply having your name on the federal Do Not Call registry, Tankersley said, was not enough to ensure you would not receive calls. States each have their own registries that consumers should add their names to as well, he said.

Furthermore, companies with which consumers have a previous relationship – even something as incidental as signing up for a company-run sweepstakes – are legally permitted to contact consumers whose names are on no-call lists.

A new federal law that kicks in Sept. 1 will prohibit the use of prerecorded calls for marketing campaigns.

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