FCC sues AT&T for Nigerian TDD scams [telecom]

AT&T provides a TDD relay service for which the government reimburses the costs. According to the WSJ, the Justice Department is suing AT&T for fraudulent reimbursement claims.

TDD relay has a dreadful problem with Nigerians calling and defrauding people. The FCC required that operators register users and verify that they're in the US. The suit claims that AT&T deliberately uses a registration scheme that doesn't keep out crooks, and as a result 95% (NINETY FIVE PERCENT) of their TDD calls are Nigerian fraud.

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Regards, John Levine, snipped-for-privacy@iecc.com, Primary Perpetrator of "The Internet for Dummies", Please consider the environment before reading this e-mail.
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Reply to
John R. Levine
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This is a combination of a "no good deed goes unpunished" and a Tragedy of the Commons problem. TDD has always been offered on a no-questions asked basis, with the facilitator simply reading the TDD side, and typing in the spoken side.

It's set up with the idea that even though there's an extra person in the loop, the deaf person has the same privacy as a hearing person using the phone system.

Exactly how DO you "keep out crooks" here? I don't think there's a magic solution when there's so many ways of tunneling to a US phone line or internet address from anywhere in the world. *

Reply to

Here is a more complete article:


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Intresting factoid -- claim is that AT&T erroneously billed $16 million to the U.S. Gov't. for non-US-origin 'relay' services calls over several years. DOJ is seeking 'treble damages'. RICO ??

Reply to
Robert Bonomi

False Claims Act

R's, John

Reply to
John Levine

I have many deaf friends who tell me that they can no longer use the TDD service because as soon as people hear the announcement that they are receiving a relay call, they hang up.

So, this abuse has made the service unusable for the people it was intended to help.

I'm not surprised that this has become the case, and I'm not surprised that AT&T has made no attempt to stop it. However, I am very very surprised that AT&T would attempt to make the case that they didn't know what was going on.


Reply to
Scott Dorsey

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