Feds: AT&T Put Fraud on Government Tab
Service for the deaf was abused by Nigerian scammers
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Mar 23, 2012 9:51 AM CDT
In this Oct. 19, 2009 file photo, the AT&T logo is seen in a RadioShack store in Gloucester, Mass.   (AP Photo/Lisa Poole, File)

(Newser) – The Justice Department has accused AT&T of bilking the government out of more than $16 million by purposely allowing Nigerian fraudsters to abuse a service intended to help deaf Americans. AT&T says it's just following FCC rules requiring it to offer a free IP Relay service, which allows the deaf to type messages for an operator to read. The government then reimburses AT&T for the calls at $1.30 per minute, Bloomberg explains. But the Justice Department says 95% of the calls AT&T facilitated were from foreign con artists, mainly from Lagos, Nigeria.

In 2008, the FCC required AT&T to verify callers were US residents. At first, AT&T complied by mailing out postcards that needed to be returned. Revenue plummeted, and the company feared it would miss its projections. “We are expecting a serious decline because traffic from fraud will go to zero,” one technical manager told company executives. Soon after, AT&T allowed people to simply enter an address online. Registration soared, and internal emails indicate the company knew it was because of fraud—but did nothing to combat it, the complaint alleges.

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Feds: AT&T Put Fraud on Government Tab is...
25%
11%
3%
49%
6%
7%
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Comments
Showing 2 of 4 comments
Observer
Mar 23, 2012 10:46 AM CDT
AT&T also does not bear responsibility when your social security number gets hacked through their system. which mine did in 1996. I took the issue up with their general counsel over three months. They got uglier with every call. I still had to provide about 100 pages of documents for them to clear my account and records with the banks and credit bureaus. I didn't even live in the state the identity theft occured. AT&T allows crime to happen through their system because the profit from it. Like on the 900 number sex chat lines. They make a ton of money off this. (That is legal and lucrative.)
Buckshot
Mar 23, 2012 10:34 AM CDT
Now that lour brilliant SCOTUS has ruled corporations are people too I want to know who the fuck from AT&T is going to jail $16 million seems like a prosecutable amount doesn't it?