Scam Alert: Are con-artists sneaking in extra charges on your phone bill?

”You`d have to be a genius to figure out all the taxes and numbers on here, says Clark Beerman, a fraud victim.

Clark Beermann is talking about the phone bill for his business—lots of phone lines and a bill with multiple pages.

“This one particular item kept showing up. This is where I found the charge they were sticking on my bill,” says Beerman.

It was buried below taxes and fees. And for most people who got targeted in this scam, it ranged from around $13 to $40.

The number of victims?

”In this case, there were tens of thousands of cramming victims and losses totaled over 22 million dollars,” says Andrew Wang, US Postal Inspector.

Two scam artists, working through a middle man, told phone companies that various consumers and businesses had agreed to pay a monthly fee for their service – an internet directory.

The truth?

”They were perpetrating a false billing scheme,” says Wang.

In other words, the con-artists were billing people who never ordered their service. It`s called telephone cramming.

”The placement of unauthorized charges on to a consumer or business` telephone bill,” says Wang.

The victims, most of whom never noticed the charge, included thousands of business owners like Clark Beerman who eventually complained to their phone company.

Those complaints ended up in the hands of US postal inspectors who busted the operation.

”It might have been going on for a year; it could have gone on forever,” says Beerman.

Two brothers pulled off this scheme. One was convicted of mail fraud and money laundering and sentenced to 30 months behind bars.

The other was convicted of mail fraud and served a 20-month sentence. They invested most of their illegal proceeds in real estate, some of which the government seized. The victims received only pennies back on every dollar they lost.

3 comments

    • Billy Allen

      How about you put the blame where it actually belongs which is on the phone companies failing to do their job and insure that the charges were legitimate instead of demanding that government repay the victims out of the taxpayers pockets and then proceed to use some poor attempt at conservative sarcasm to put blame on the wrong people.

  • Mitch

    Businesses BEWARE: Those using outsourcing companies are at great risk for this type of crime!!!! The people who do your outsourcing most likely DO NOT look for suspicious third party charges!!!! They just pay the bill. It can cost you hundreds (if you only have one store) or thousands (if you have more than one unit). When you try to get your money back, the phone company will shrug and say “someone on your end must have approved the charges”. It doesn’t matter that only ONE person is supposed to be allowed to make changes to your accounts and they are at your Home Office!!! They can also include internet charges for services you aren’t receiving.
    Make sure you put a third party stop on all accounts. The phone company then becomes responsible. Make sure outsourcing companies forward you copy of the bills to see and confront the companies involved in these “fake service” scams. It will take you hours of phone calls and many threatening letters to these creeps, but you can get some of your money back.
    I don’t believe the government should pay for these scams…the individuals and companies who perpetrate these crimes should be hunted down, fined and jailed. If they continue to get paid, why should they stop???
    And yes, I was the victim of this type of crime and I wouldn’t let it go. It is stealing, plain and simple!!!

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