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AT&T Communications Crime Government The Almighty Buck

AT&T Charged US Taxpayers $16 Million For Nigerian Fraud Calls 155

McGruber writes "Bloomberg News is reporting that AT&T got more than $16 million from the U.S. government to run Telecommunications Relay Services, intended to help the hearing- and speech-impaired. However, as many as '95 percent of the calls in AT&T's hearing- impaired program were made by people outside the U.S. attempting to defraud merchants through the use of stolen credit cards, counterfeit checks and money orders.' According to the DoJ, 'AT&T in 2004, after getting complaints from merchants, determined the Internet Protocol addresses of 10 of the top 12 users of the service were abroad, primarily in Lagos, Nigeria.' The DOJ intervened in the whistle-blower lawsuit Lyttle v. AT&T Communications of Pennsylvania, 10-01376, U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh). The DOJ is seeking triple damages from AT&T."
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AT&T Charged US Taxpayers $16 Million For Nigerian Fraud Calls

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  • Re:FYI (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 23, 2012 @01:04PM (#39453141)

    Treble damages is a legal term meaning triple damages.

    Yes, lawyers make up their own words/phrases for stuff to confuse you.

  • Re:FYI (Score:5, Informative)

    by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <{richardprice} {at} {}> on Friday March 23, 2012 @01:08PM (#39453199)

    Lawyers didn't make it up, it's a well used word here in the UK. It's just fallen out of use in US English.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 23, 2012 @01:12PM (#39453239)

    "Hearing impaired" is not the preferred phrase. "Hard of hearing" is a better choice. Just a friendly heads up since most hearing people have yet to become aware of this :) I'm hard of hearing.

  • Believable for AT&T (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Friday March 23, 2012 @01:15PM (#39453289)

    AT&T must have people dedicated to finding new ways to rip off customers. Just this month they retroactively increased my rates for the previous billing period. That period was consumed, billed and paid for. This month my bill goes up (an across the board $5/month increase for DSL), I look it over and see they credited part of the previous billing cycle at the old rate then charged it again at the new rate. I see no way it's legal to go into the past and charge more for services already rendered, billed and paid for.

    Probably most people did not pay enough attention to even realize what they did, and for the extra $3 it's not worth going to court. It's just another example of AT&T ripping off customers in a precise way to minimize the chances of getting called on their thievery.

  • Re:Let me guess.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Friday March 23, 2012 @01:22PM (#39453369)

    Never mind. It appears AT&T didn't obey the rules:

    "In late 2008, the FCC required that providers certify that callers are eligible for the program by verifying the userâ(TM)s name and mailing address before issuing a 10-digit telephone number, according to the lawsuit. AT&T implemented a plan that mailed postcards to the addresses of users. Those who returned the card received a 10- digit number.

    "Between April 2009 and September 2009, AT&T had registered just 20 percent of its existing users. AT&T managers were concerned they would fall short of company projections for program minutes and related revenue, according to the lawsuit. "We are expecting a serious decline in [internet relay] traffic because fraud will go to zero (at least temporarily) and we havenâ(TM)t registered nearly enough customers to pick up the slack," Burt Bossi, a manager of AT&Tâ(TM)s technical team.

    Sounds like deliberate fraud to me.
    But then that is standard practive for
    government & government-paid contractors. :-|

    "The case is Lyttle v. AT&T Communications of Pennsylvania." Who is Lyttle and why is is being prosecuted in Pittsburgh?

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday March 23, 2012 @01:27PM (#39453429)

    and i'm "hearing impaired" i hate it when people do stupid shit like this to be more "politically correct"

    I dated a girl once that was deaf in one ear. She preferred to call it "deaf in one ear".

  • Re:Let me guess.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Friday March 23, 2012 @01:45PM (#39453723)

    The first name in a case is the person or entity bringing the case, so in this case it's Lyttle bringing a case against AT&T. As for who Lyttle is, from one of the articles:

    The United States’ complaint was filed in a lawsuit originally brought under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act by Constance Lyttle, a former CA who worked in one of AT&T’s IP Relay call centers. Under the act’s qui tam provisions, a private citizen, known as a “relator,” can sue for fraud on behalf of the United States, which has the option of taking over the case.

    I.e. Lyttle is the person who noticed the fraud and decided to play whistleblower by suing AT&T. The DOJ has now chosen to step in. The article goes on to mention that if the DOJ is successful in the suit, Lyttle will get a cut of the recovery.

  • Re:FYI (Score:5, Informative)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Friday March 23, 2012 @02:13PM (#39454143)

    As any fisherman knows, a treble hook is a three-pronged hook.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard