AT&T, every U.S. citizen's favorite telecommunications carrier when it comes to federal lawsuits and service complaints, has purportedly stolen millions of dollars from American taxpayers in fradulent charges, according to a new report published by the Department of Justice.
While the report doesn't specify how long AT&T has allegedly received millions of dollars from a particular government reimbursement fund, it claims that the global conglomerate "ignored fraudulent use of the IP Relay call system provided free of charge to hearing and speech-impaired US residents." In other words, AT&T has been able to get away with successfully manipulating a communication system for deaf people. Unbelievable.
The United States alleges that AT&T violated the False Claims Act by facilitating and seeking federal payment for IP Relay calls by international callers who were ineligible for the service and sought to use it for fraudulent purposes. The complaint alleges that, out of fears that fraudulent call volume would drop after the registration deadline, AT&T knowingly adopted a non-compliant registration system that did not verify whether the user was located within the United States.
According to current regulations, the US government reimburses IP Relay providers $1.30 per minute, but calls coming from outside the US or made by people without hearing impairments are ineligible for reimbursement. The Federal Communications Commission started requiring providers to verify the accuracy of each IP Relay user's name and mailing address in 2009, but it appears AT&T discovered a way around those rules. Moreover, the company has not stated whether or not it verifies the location of users as required by government regulations.
"As the FCC is aware, it is always possible for an individual to misuse IP Relay services, just as someone can misuse the postal system or an email account," AT&T spokesperson Marty Richter said. "But FCC rules require that we complete all calls by customers who identify themselves as disabled."