March 24, 2012– The U.S. government has sued telecommunications giant AT&T for allegedly ignoring scammers that abused its own calling service for those whom are hearing impaired. Then the government said AT&T cashed in on the scammers fraudulent calls.
AT&T is accused by the Justice Department of knowingly taking in millions of dollars of federal money for calls that Nigerian scammers actually made. The suit was filed at a federal court in Pittsburgh on Thursday against the IP Relay service of AT&T, which is made to assist callers who are hearing-impaired.
The IP Relay service that AT&T plus others offer, allows individuals who are hearing impaired to type their messages while it is read by an operator. The services are free to the callers. Service providers are reimbursed by the Federal Communications Commission to the tune of $1.30 per minute.
Often times, scammers will try to abuse this and order products from retailers in the U.S. by using credit card numbers that have been stolen. Because of this, since 2009 the FCC has required IP service providers to verify the name plus mailing address of the user.
The recent complaint says AT&T feared the volume of fraudulent calls would drop following the deadline for registration and therefore knowingly started a system for registering callers that did not include verifying their location. The complaint allege that AT&T, even with knowledge that foreign scammers were using the system, continued to maintain the same registering methods.