Yesterday, we reported about a family in Montana who, helped by their accountant, allegedly managed to scam consumers out of $70 M (€52M) in extra phone charges.Stephan and Terry Sann, with the help of their son Nathan, ran 9 shell companies that they would use to move assets around.
The company names are: American eVoice, Emerica Media Corp., FoneRight, Global Voice Mail, HearYou2, Network Assurance, SecuratDat, Techmax Solutions and Voice Mail Professionals.
They would perform “cramming,” a practice described as adding a relatively small fee to the end of costumers' bills without their permission, according to the official FTC complaint. Most clients weren't even aware that the fee existed, and never inquired about it.
“The charges are purportedly for voice mail services, electronic fax services, or other noncall - related services. [...] Defendants have initiated these charges by transmitting billing data to
companies known as 'billing aggregators,' including BSG Clearing Solutions, ILD Telecommunications, Inc., and Transaction Clearing, LLC.,” the FTC document reads.
Clients of Verizon, AT&T, and Frontier have been tracked down through aggregators, and tricked into paying the fees.
“These billing aggregators have business relationships with consumers’ local FTC v. American eVoice, Ltd., et al. telephone companies (known as 'local exchange carriers' or 'LECs'),
including Verizon, AT&T, and Frontier.
“The billing aggregators forward defendants’ billing data for each consumer to the appropriate LEC, and the LEC then places the charges for the purported services on the consumer’s
monthly telephone bill.
“The charges billed on behalf of Defendants usually appear on one of the last pages of a consumer’s multi-page telephone bill,” the complaint adds.
The Federal Trade Comission has filed for an injunction, in order to freeze the Sanns' assets and stop the companies from pursuing their activities further.