Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

AT&T Charged US Taxpayers $16 Million For Nigerian Fraud Calls

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the hand-in-the-cookie-jar dept.

AT&T 155

McGruber writes "Bloomberg News is reporting that AT&T got more than $16 million from the U.S. government to run Telecommunications Relay Services, intended to help the hearing- and speech-impaired. However, as many as '95 percent of the calls in AT&T's hearing- impaired program were made by people outside the U.S. attempting to defraud merchants through the use of stolen credit cards, counterfeit checks and money orders.' According to the DoJ, 'AT&T in 2004, after getting complaints from merchants, determined the Internet Protocol addresses of 10 of the top 12 users of the service were abroad, primarily in Lagos, Nigeria.' The DOJ intervened in the whistle-blower lawsuit Lyttle v. AT&T Communications of Pennsylvania, 10-01376, U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh). The DOJ is seeking triple damages from AT&T."

cancel ×

155 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

FYI (2)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453123)

It's treble, not triple.

Re:FYI (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453141)

Treble damages is a legal term meaning triple damages.

Yes, lawyers make up their own words/phrases for stuff to confuse you.

Re:FYI (5, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453199)

Lawyers didn't make it up, it's a well used word here in the UK. It's just fallen out of use in US English.

Re:FYI (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453395)

things don't fall when out of use... right!!

Re:FYI (2)

Rasperin (1034758) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454179)

If a tree falls in the woods, does it make noise? If a word falls out of a language, does anyone notice? These are the great mysteries of the world!

No it hasn't... (3, Funny)

fallen1 (230220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453689)

"Some voices got treble, some voices got bass
We've got the kind of voices that are in your face!"
-- Beastie Boys

See? Not out of use at all... Oh, wait, we're talking about treble/triple though aren't we?

Re:FYI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39454305)

Where did English come from really? German, French, Keltic. Its all made up.
We are still trying to get over your standard system. Maybe we can get out of our dark ages and use the metric system and stop torturing kids with pounds and inches.... Although I really think we should keep the Pint! A lot of them.

Re:FYI (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454795)

Lawyers didn't make it up, it's a well used word here in the UK. It's just fallen out of use in US English.

No, but they do everything they can (such as use archaic words like treble) to confuse the people and prevent them from understanding laws and court proceedings without hiring one of them.

There ought to be a law.... oh wait.

Re:FYI (4, Informative)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454143)

As any fisherman knows, a treble hook is a three-pronged hook.

Re:FYI (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455011)

And Willie sure does know how to hook a 'gator wit' one. Yahoo!

Re:FYI (1)

The Raven (30575) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454303)

No, Treble is an archaic form of the word 'triple' that the legal system has hung on to. It is perfectly normal (if old-fashioned) English.

Re:FYI (3, Insightful)

BiggerBadderBen (947100) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453163)

They mean the same thing, trebleevenfall. Don't be a pedantic tool.

Re:FYI (0)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453303)

Man, firsties require quick reflexes. You see an opening, you take it.

Re:FYI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453455)

Man, firsties require quick reflexes. You see an opening, you take it.

Your mom must be so proud, why don't you run up stairs and tell her.

Re:FYI (2)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454545)

they see me trollin

they hatin

Re:FYI (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453179)

FYI you're wrong, it's both.

Grammar Nazi Spotting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39454755)

That is triply uninteresting.

hucksters. (0)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453189)

This is about as surprising as water being wet. AT&T is a company run by hucksters.

Re:hucksters. (4, Funny)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453291)

As a huckster, I don't appreciate you slandering my name like that.

Re:hucksters. (1)

Delarth799 (1839672) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454085)

The Prince of Nigeria has just passed away and as heir to his throne and lawyers you will be able to sue this evil monster out of existence. All it takes is your name, SSN, address, and a good will payment of $10,000 USD forwarded to the address below using Western Union.

Mr. Johns Cammer
101 Prince Rd
JOS 930283
No-Scam State
Nigeria

Re:hucksters. (4, Funny)

PenquinCoder (1431871) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454387)

The Prince of Nigeria has just passed away and as heir to his throne and lawyers you will be able to sue this evil monster out of existence. All it takes is your name, SSN, address, and a good will payment of $10,000 USD forwarded to the address below using Western Union.

Mr. Johns Cammer
101 Prince Rd
JOS 930283
No-Scam State
Nigeria

Fake. The spelling is too good.

Re:hucksters. (2)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454561)

I agree, plus the mixed case is a dead giveaway.

Let me guess.... (5, Insightful)

Brannoncyll (894648) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453231)

.. the only ones getting hurt by the fines will AT&T's customers when they see their bills increase.

Re:Let me guess.... (3, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453307)

Don't be an ATT customer.

I can't help wondering if this is really AT&T's fault? They were tasked to provide this service by the government. Were they then supposed to filter-out the overseas hearing-impaired? Doesn't that violate the Common Carrier requirement that phone calls not be monitored for content or restricted? (ponder). I'm curious to see how this turns-out.

Re:Let me guess.... (5, Informative)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453369)

Never mind. It appears AT&T didn't obey the rules:

"In late 2008, the FCC required that providers certify that callers are eligible for the program by verifying the userâ(TM)s name and mailing address before issuing a 10-digit telephone number, according to the lawsuit. AT&T implemented a plan that mailed postcards to the addresses of users. Those who returned the card received a 10- digit number.

"Between April 2009 and September 2009, AT&T had registered just 20 percent of its existing users. AT&T managers were concerned they would fall short of company projections for program minutes and related revenue, according to the lawsuit. "We are expecting a serious decline in [internet relay] traffic because fraud will go to zero (at least temporarily) and we havenâ(TM)t registered nearly enough customers to pick up the slack," Burt Bossi, a manager of AT&Tâ(TM)s technical team.

Sounds like deliberate fraud to me.
But then that is standard practive for
government & government-paid contractors. :-|

"The case is Lyttle v. AT&T Communications of Pennsylvania." Who is Lyttle and why is is being prosecuted in Pittsburgh?

Re:Let me guess.... (5, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453723)

The first name in a case is the person or entity bringing the case, so in this case it's Lyttle bringing a case against AT&T. As for who Lyttle is, from one of the articles:

The United States’ complaint was filed in a lawsuit originally brought under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act by Constance Lyttle, a former CA who worked in one of AT&T’s IP Relay call centers. Under the act’s qui tam provisions, a private citizen, known as a “relator,” can sue for fraud on behalf of the United States, which has the option of taking over the case.

I.e. Lyttle is the person who noticed the fraud and decided to play whistleblower by suing AT&T. The DOJ has now chosen to step in. The article goes on to mention that if the DOJ is successful in the suit, Lyttle will get a cut of the recovery.

Reading instead of guessing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453403)

The fine article says, that they were required to verify an valid address within the US. They let the user give an address and sent a postcard there with a code. But thus usage went down and there was no fraud. Thus they changed verifying addresses to checking if they are in some database of all valid addresses in the US. After that usage skyrocketed and there were many complains of fraud.

Re:Let me guess.... (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453409)

Don't be an ATT customer.

I can't help wondering if this is really AT&T's fault? They were tasked to provide this service by the government. Were they then supposed to filter-out the overseas hearing-impaired? Doesn't that violate the Common Carrier requirement that phone calls not be monitored for content or restricted? (ponder). I'm curious to see how this turns-out.

How can this not be AT&T's fault? They are the ones with the tools to detect and reduce this fraud. If a city pays a company to run a paratransit service, they shouldn't allow it to be used as a getaway car for a bank robbery, even if the passenger appears to be disabled.

Re:Let me guess.... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454201)

"Don't be an ATT customer."

I'm sorry, have we met? Hi, this is the United States, land o' monopoly! In my area you want a cell there is AT&T and ...well that's it. if you drive 25 miles to the south you can use Verizon but who wants to drive 25 miles just to use their phone? Sadly here in the USA for those that are not from here we usually have ONE teleco and ONE cableco and that it is, there is NO choice and NO competition and the companies pay a shitload in bribes...err i mean "campaign contributions" to make sure nobody mentions those socialist words like "free market" or the dreaded phrase "open up the lines" because removing the ability for a corporation to bleed customers wallets by lock in and fee jacking, why that would just be un American!

Re:Let me guess.... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453417)

omg! don't hold corporations accountable!

get a grip.

Re:Let me guess.... (3, Insightful)

Brannoncyll (894648) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453827)

omg! don't hold corporations accountable!

get a grip.

Hold the management responsible. Fining the corporation will just result in pissing off their customers but will not discourage the corporation from doing it again unless they lose a significant number of customers.

Re:Let me guess.... (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453711)

So what do you suggest? Make corporations immune to fines and damages? Yes, their customers will have to pay off the judgement. IF they stay their customers. There is nothing stopping them from going to the competition (which will of course raise their prices, due to the sudden high demand).

Re:Let me guess.... (4, Interesting)

Brannoncyll (894648) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453923)

So what do you suggest? Make corporations immune to fines and damages? Yes, their customers will have to pay off the judgement. IF they stay their customers. There is nothing stopping them from going to the competition (which will of course raise their prices, due to the sudden high demand).

According to this article [intomobile.com] , in early 2011 AT&T had roughly 96 million customers. They can pay back a paltry $50 million dollar fine by increasing their customers monthly fee by 50 cents for one month.

I suggest making the management responsible. Depending on the level of collusion (an investigation will need to take place) certain managers should be fined or even jailed. This would certainly discourage others from hiding behind the 'corporations are people' bullshit while committing crimes that citizens would be locked away for. Another alternative is making the fine so large that they could not afford to pass it on to their customers - of course this will likely take the company down anyway, but who cares? You do the crime, you do the time.

Re:Let me guess.... (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454671)

Wow... if regulatory capture wasn't a problem before, wait until we implement your suggestions.

Re:Let me guess.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39455241)

Wow... if regulatory capture wasn't a problem before, wait until we implement your suggestions.

If what the lawsuit claims is true these managers knew the service was used almost entirely for fraud and wanted to keep the fraudsters using the service. That means these people are criminals. There's no limited liability for people committing criminal acts within corporations. I can't imagine anyone thinking that would be a good idea.

Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (3, Insightful)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453235)

I always laugh when a lawyer or judge or politician starts screaming about hitting a business with a financial loss to punish them for fraud or negligence or some other crime or scam. Where do they think that that money is going to come from? Do they think that the CEOs are going to pay it from their own pockets?

That money will come directly from consumers and subscribers. Most who will be completely unaware of this lawsuit. AT&T will up the rates or charge extra for other services or products and that will pay off whatever losses are from this lawsuit.

Basically only the consumers lose. The Nigerian scammers make their money. AT&T makes its money back eventually. The judges and lawyers make their money. And the consumers and taxpayers foot the bill for everything. It's a great system.

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (2, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453259)

So your solution is to never punish businesses instead?

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453305)

For making bad choices? Yes.

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453679)

"Bad choices?" This wasn't a bad choice from AT&T's perspective. They were laughing all the way to the bank, right up to the point where they got caught.

You seem to have confused "bad choices" with "defrauding their customer " (in this case the US taxpayer)

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453789)

So it's not a bad choice to break the law?

Oh.. I see what you did there. Yes, since corporations, boards, stockholders aren't held accountable for this breaking the law ISN'T a bad choice in their eyes.

Hold the damn people accountable. Find a way.

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39454003)

What about for making bad choices with government funds?

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454433)

Since when is "fraud" just a "bad choice"?

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (4, Interesting)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453345)

Punish them by forcing discounts on customers. Instead of paying the money directly, they pay it in reduced revenues.

Of course then there's no fees for the lawyers or fines for the government, so that'll never fly.

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454447)

Then they'll just use that as an excuse to fire people. So in the end, every punishment is going to negatively effect someone. The solution is not no punishment at all.

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39454909)

Force them to pay the damages in shares of stock. Then, as the government slowly sells them on the open market, it will reduce the stock price, the investors will notice, and get pissed off at the management. Then they may take action.

This may not work, and there may be problems, but you want to get AT&T management to behave, getting the stockholders to notice is the only way I see to get the management to notice.

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39455075)

Or perhaps it's because not every U.S. taxpayer is an AT&T customer.

I am fine with the government providing my money to a corporation as fee that includes some profit in exchange for a service that leads to a betterment of society. In this case, communications services that the disabled can avail themselves of or that the non-disabled can use to communicate more easily with the disabled.

I am not okay with my tax money being used to provide discounts to said corporation's customers simply because they are upset with the company's policies or the contract that they freely entered into. If the contract is what one freely signed, and it is not an illegal contract, then tough shit. Change providers at the end of the contract or pay the penalties agreed upon to terminate the contract early. If the policies have changed in violation of the contract then they have the option to sue on their own accord. It is not the responsibility of the taxpayers to assist in the compensation of parties that are simply in a business relationship they have come to regret.

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (1)

s-whs (959229) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453489)

So your solution is to never punish businesses instead?

Money punishments are pointless most of the time. The bosses should get punishment. A substantial decrease in pay, and if things are bad enough throw them them in jail, forbid them to be part of boards of any companies etc. That's punishment that will work!

Limited liability the way it works now gives 2 kinds of sociopaths a chance to wreak havoc: The actual sociopaths, and companies consisting of a-holes and sociopaths in the board and as directors who make the company act as a sociopath.

What's being done is as the OP said and which I said e.g. in a posting some time ago here about punishing a company (I think it was a story about Kodak), not useful.

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453541)

The bosses should get punishment.

Exactly. You can't put a corporation in jail, but you can put the law-breaking decision makers there.

Incorporation protects the board of directors and management from financial losses and seizure of their personal assets. It does not protect them from prosecution for illegal activities or decisions made on behalf of the company.

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (1)

joebok (457904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453397)

In this case, the business (wireless) is pretty competitive - so if AT&T decided to pass on the fine to their customers they face a real risk of losing those customers to a carrier that has not incurred the fines.

Unless, of course, there is price collusion going on and all the carriers decide to jack up their rates simultaneously - but that is a different problem.

AT&T benefited from a government contract - if they were negligent or didn't manage it well they deserve to face some kind of consequences.

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (1)

reub2000 (705806) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454523)

In this case, the business (wireless) is pretty competitive - so if AT&T decided to pass on the fine to their customers they face a real risk of losing those customers to a carrier that has not incurred the fines.

This is the market where they charge $20/Month for 300MB of data, and another $20/Month for texting.

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (2)

yoghurt (2090) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453497)

Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral^H^H^H^H^H^H CEO pour encourager les autres.

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454231)

Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral^H^H^H^H^H^H CEO pour encourager les autres.

Si seulement... Et donc d'améliorer le monde!

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454093)

I always laugh when a lawyer or judge or politician starts screaming about hitting a business with a financial loss to punish them for fraud or negligence or some other crime or scam. [...] That money will come directly from consumers and subscribers.

I always laugh when some uninformed twerp says that companies just pass fines on - without stopping to consider that if the market would bear a higher price they'd already be charging it.

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454127)

That money will come directly from consumers and subscribers.

That is in fact only half-true, and is identical to the situation for taxes and increased costs of doing business.

The reason for this is the Law of Demand, which causes volume to go down when prices go up for the vast majority of goods. So, if this cost AT&T $20 per customer per month for a long time, a lot of AT&T users would switch to one of their competitors or be priced out of the market completely, and AT&T would lose too many customers. So what will happen is that AT&T will raise their prices by as much as they think they can get away with without reducing volume (say $5 per month), with the remainder turning into reduced profits.

Another way of thinking about it: A corporation can be modeled as an equation in which money comes in from buyers paying an aggregate cost of p for the product, and goes out to government (g), suppliers (s), workers (w), management (m), and investors (i), so that p = g+s+w+m+i. If some other cost c is imposed (from any source), you're making the incorrect assumption that the equation can only be balanced by p+c = g+s+w+m+i+c, when it in fact can be balanced by n*b = g+s+w+m+(i-c)+c or numerous other ways.

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454265)

The idea is to hit them with a fine big enough that they can't pass it on and keep their customers. Alas, that's made meaningless by fines that can be paid out of petty cash and/or markets without adequate competition.

Fines should be levied in terms of days of profit.

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39454283)

This seems a real problem for society, how do you punish an entity that seems bigger than the law. In the US the Supreme Court has determined that corporate entities are "persons". The funny thing is that: If a real "person", commits fraud and steals a large amount of money, they are libel to be thrown in prison. How does society throw ATT in jail? The answer so far has been to fine the guilty corporations a few million dollars, a relatively small percentage of the money they have acquired by illegal means. The owners (stockholders) and managers (officers) of the corporations face no liability.
How can we fix this?

Re:Consumers will foot the bil for AT&T (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455019)

Do you really think AT&T aren't charging what they think is the price that will generate them the maximu prodit already? You think out of the goodness of their hearts AT&T is making less money by charging a lower price?

Obviously AT&T doesn't have perfect knowledge but I'm pretty sure they are trying to charge the amount to maximize profit. That means if they raise prices they'll make less money because less people will use the service (and if they lower prices they'll make less money too).

Hence raising prices to cover the cost would be a stupid decision. Either stupid because it results in less profits, or stupid for not doing it earlier without needing to cover some additional costs.

If they're a monopoly with some sort of cost plus legal requirement on prices then since the government sets those rules hopefully they weren't stupid enough to include such a thing in the cost formula.

friendly heads up RE "hearing impaired" (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453239)

"Hearing impaired" is not the preferred phrase. "Hard of hearing" is a better choice. Just a friendly heads up since most hearing people have yet to become aware of this :) I'm hard of hearing.

http://www.nad.org/issues/american-sign-language/community-and-culture-faq

Re:friendly heads up RE "hearing impaired" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453341)

and i'm "hearing impaired" i hate it when people do stupid shit like this to be more "politically correct"

Re:friendly heads up RE "hearing impaired" (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453405)

It's the euphemism treadmill. People come up with a euphemism to describe a negative condition without the negative connotations associated with the original word. Unfortunately, the reason why the word had negative connotations in the first place is because the condition it described was undesirable. So the euphemism picks up the negative connotations that it was specifically created to avoid, and a new euphemism is necessary. The process then repeats. You can see this in a number of places. My favorite is how "idiot" turned to "imbecile" which turned to "slow" which turned to "retarded" which turned to "learning impaired" or "minimally exceptional" or whatever it is now.

The great 20th century philosopher and orator George Carlin had a pretty good routine about this; I'm sure you can find it on YouTube or something.

Re:friendly heads up RE "hearing impaired" (3, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453429)

and i'm "hearing impaired" i hate it when people do stupid shit like this to be more "politically correct"

I dated a girl once that was deaf in one ear. She preferred to call it "deaf in one ear".

Re:friendly heads up RE "hearing impaired" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453443)

I knew somebody would say that. *shrug* I'm not doing it to be "PC" but bless you anyways.

Re:friendly heads up RE "hearing impaired" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453431)

If you're deaf then you're clearly hearing impaired and not hard of hearing.

Re:friendly heads up RE "hearing impaired" (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453469)

I thought thought the politically correct phrase was "Deaf as a Bat" or maybe "Deaf as a Post."

Where the hell is Garrett Morris? He wouldn't charge as much, I'm sure.

Re:friendly heads up RE "hearing impaired" (5, Funny)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453501)

"Hearing impaired" is not the preferred phrase

Yeah, it should be HEARING IMPAIRED!!!!!

Re:friendly heads up RE "hearing impaired" (3, Funny)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453855)

WHAT???

Re:friendly heads up RE "hearing impaired" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453543)

I'm representative of a small clutch of minority groups - the least of my less mainstream characteristics is that I'm lesbian. I actually find it hard to keep track of the correct nomenclature to describe myself and what's more, I find that it varies according to the relevant social cliques. I'm entirely happy as long as the person I'm talking with isn't insensitive or a bigoted douchebag. Finding exact phrases to fit one's important little places seems to be an exercise in self-absorbed futility, especially given the nature of euphemism thrash. See the word 'gay', for example.

Re:friendly heads up RE "hearing impaired" (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453907)

My wife says I'm hearing impaired, at least I think so, I wasn't really listen to her.

No wait, here's an update from the newsroom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453969)

The new politically correct term for all the people who keep telling us to use politically correct terms is:

Nigger.

Yeah I know, strange and perhaps bothersome to some, but there's nothing we can do. Now back to our Asian-American reporter Trisha Takanawa.

Trisha: Thanks Nigger. Today in Quahog...

Re:friendly heads up RE "hearing impaired" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39454977)

interesting.

From that site:

For many people, the words “deaf” and “hard of hearing” are not negative. Instead, the term “hearing-impaired” is viewed as negative. The term focuses on what people can’t do. It establishes the standard as “hearing” and anything different as “impaired,” or substandard, hindered, or damaged. It implies that something is not as it should be and ought to be fixed if possible. To be fair, this is probably not what people intended to convey by the term “hearing impaired.”

Humm.. but how is that different from "hard of hearing" which also implies something is not quite 100% ? I honestly don't see how "hearing impaired" is worse than "hard of hearing"...

I was getting these calls in 2002 (5, Interesting)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453253)

Back then, it was the Sprint relay service. Callers would want to buy a dozen flat panel monitors, and offer a credit card and U.S. shipping address. Card was usually bogus, but sometimes not. We accepted a few orders but when the card would not approve we just dumped them - and callers would call back to order huge quantities of more expensive gear. We actually started refusing these calls from Sprint outright, got threatened with an ADA suit, and then magically they all stopped. I wonder if Sprint figured it out, or if the clan just moved on. Our defense against the ADA complaint was that we did not do business with foreign customers, no matter the shipping address. Part of this scam was to delay the shipments, dispute the charges, get refunded, and the merchandise is gone. Card goes bad, no one to complain to, and merchants usually have no recourse with the issuer or banks. You're just out the money AND the merchandise. We didn't happen to lose a dollar, but they probably managed to nick someone.

Nice work though, AT&T being the disinterested third party for profit.

Now can we start looking into how the Universal Service Find is being hijacked to try and build the rural Internet where no provider seems willing to do so as in some cases legally required? Noooo... but crony capitalism is flourishing, thanks to the few remaining taxpayers.

Feh.

Re:I was getting these calls in 2002 (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453585)

In the mid-90s I sometimes had to handle dial-up tech support through a relay.

I felt sad for the operators. I had some where I had to give bad news to the caller that ended with the operator having to say something like "Fuck you." Again, adding anonymous to any conversation involves the "unified fuckwad theory."

This is another reason phone based tech support is the worst job in the industry.

Re:I was getting these calls in 2002 (1)

Camel Pilot (78781) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453589)

Yeah I also received these calls... for puppies. I kid you not we had a litter of Boston Terrier puppies for sale in the local paper and they would call through an interpreter wanting to buy the whole litter to be sent to somewhere in Texas to an alleged Petroleum Engineer. After a few calls I smelled something fishy and told them to take a hike... only to receive another hearing- and speech-impaired call with a different story a day later.

       

Re:I was getting these calls in 2002 (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453949)

I had the same thing happen to me for a little of Dachshunds

Re:I was getting these calls in 2002 (1)

beltsbear (2489652) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453633)

I also got many of these calls at my store. Unfortunately I had to take them as I had a few legitimate callers using the service. Each time it took about 10 minutes (because the process was so slow) to tell them we do not accept credit cards through any contact that did not start face to face. We were not a mail order house.

I also got those on my cellphone (2)

billstewart (78916) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454017)

By now I don't remember what year it happened, but 2002 seems about right. I got a call from the internet deaf relay on a Sunday night on my work cellphone, with somebody who had a business proposition for me. I was in a noisy restaurant so I couldn't really hear the operator, and asked them to call back in the daytime; he called again the next evening. I don't think the guy really understood the concept of time zones, and he certainly didn't know that Memorial Day was a holiday and therefore a really unlikely time to sell my company whatever scam he was pushing.

Believable for AT&T (4, Informative)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453289)

AT&T must have people dedicated to finding new ways to rip off customers. Just this month they retroactively increased my rates for the previous billing period. That period was consumed, billed and paid for. This month my bill goes up (an across the board $5/month increase for DSL), I look it over and see they credited part of the previous billing cycle at the old rate then charged it again at the new rate. I see no way it's legal to go into the past and charge more for services already rendered, billed and paid for.

Probably most people did not pay enough attention to even realize what they did, and for the extra $3 it's not worth going to court. It's just another example of AT&T ripping off customers in a precise way to minimize the chances of getting called on their thievery.

Re:Believable for AT&T (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453959)

[...]and for the extra $3 it's not worth going to court.

IANAL, but if there are so many customers being ripped off that way, why not start a class action lawsuit? You could get more than this tiny 3$ for each consumer involved, and could put some public attention on the poor business practices of the company.

However, not knowing a lot about the US market, maybe everyone already knows that, and many people continue to do business with AT&T...

Re:Believable for AT&T (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454157)

IANAL, but if there are so many customers being ripped off that way, why not start a class action lawsuit? You could get more than this tiny 3$ for each consumer involved

If other class action suits are a guide, the lawyers would get millions and each customer would get a $2 credit towards AT&T services.

...and many people continue to do business with AT&T...

The only other choice in my neighborhood is Time Warner Cable. Both companies are in a never ending race to see which can provide worse service, charge the most outrageous fees and implement the most consumer hostile practices.

Re:Believable for AT&T (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454491)

It's because most if not all providers pull the dirty tricks and all you ever get in a class action suit is coupons that require you to spend more money on the crooks to redeem them.

Re:Believable for AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39454141)

because you are billed a month in advance. so they aren't going into the past, they are going back and adjusting for rate increases that happened in the current month. still sleazy as shit.

Re:Believable for AT&T (1)

Wain13001 (1119071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454455)

for what service does AT&T bill you a month in advance? I've never had any utility that did that. My phone company bills me for what I did on the phone the prior month...they don't magically know who I'm gonna call/what I"m gonna do beforehand

Re:Believable for AT&T (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454623)

because you are billed a month in advance

I'll put some numbers on it to help clarify:
Bill date 2/12 - $43 (old rate) covering 1/27 to 2/26 - Paid 2/14
Bill date 3/12 - $48 covering 2/27 to 3/25, credit 2/9-2/26 at old rate, charge 2/9-2/26 at new rate.

Re:Believable for AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39454519)

Take them to small claims court.
Like the guy that sued AT&T about the data throttling. Small claims is where real justice is given.

if you need a refresher (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453361)

on why nigerian fraud exists,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance-fee_fraud [wikipedia.org]
turns out once the free market is finished sucking a country dry, they really dont care much about the local economy. watching AT&T charge americans for fraud perpetrated as a result of another multinational corporations negligence is like watching Alaska charge rape victims for their kits, or prisoners for their incarceration.

at&t is no better (2)

sdnoob (917382) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453379)

than the crooks that abused the system to run their scams.

at&t fixed the problem with postcard-based registration verification but when revenues when down (due to only legitimate users, which accounted for only 20% of them, getting access to the service) they went back to a free-for-all internet-based registration and then the problem with overseas abuse returned.

of course they should pay.. and pay a hell of a lot more than 3 x 16 million for fraud...

what i would have a problem with though is if the government expects (or requires) relay operators to monitor or log conversation content and act on that content.

Thieves abound (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453419)

Communication companies are just as big of crooks as the banking industry. The only care they provide for the customer is retaining them by offering miniscule discounts when the wheel squeaks.

Left out a key part there in the summary. (3, Insightful)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453449)

Summary:

$16 million from the U.S. government to run Telecommunications Relay Services, intended to help the hearing- and speech-impaired

Article:

$16 million from the U.S. government to offer a calling service for the deaf that the company knew was being used by Nigerian fraudsters

There's a huge difference between these two statements. The first makes it sound like AT&T thought it was doing something good, but just so happened to be not so good.
The second makes it sound like AT&T knew what it was doing, but did it anyway.

Anyway, I'm usually not one to side with the DOJ, but I hope they kick AT&T's ass to the curb for this.

Re:Left out a key part there in the summary. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39454395)

> Anyway, I'm usually not one to side with the DOJ, but I hope they kick AT&T's ass to the curb for this.

Haven't been around the US scene for long, have you?

Expect a "settlement" where AT&T neither "admits nor denies any wrongdoing" and pays a paltry fine.

Justice as usual in the US of A.

Put CEOs in JAIL (4, Interesting)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453471)

Make CEOs responsible for the actions of their companies. After all, if I defauded the government of 16million dollars you bet your ass I'd be in prison, but somehow AT&T gets only a fine?

A fine that they will not even pay, since the money will actually come from their customers?

The solution is to Jail the CEO.Just ask Mitt Romney, after all, he claims the corporations are people too.

The CEOs should take responsibility, since it's the only way they can justify their outrageous salaries. It sure isn't because they've added value to the company. The S&P500 has been flat for a decade, but CEO compensation has gone up 400%.

Disclaimer: I am the 99%

Re:Put CEOs in JAIL (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453603)

Rick Scott is the poster boy for this issue.

Cost to merchants high as well (5, Funny)

beernutmark (1274132) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453503)

We get a ton of these calls at our restaurant. It costs us time taken away from actual customers on the fear that we might actually get a real relay call someday. However, I can pretty much guarantee that it will never happen. The caller always asks for 50+ of the exact same item (never on our menu but generic enough to be on most restaurants menu). I wish we could class action sue AT&T for our business costs dealing with these fraudulent calls. FYI, we have found that the best way to shorten up the call is to ask how the weather is in Nigeria. Pretty much guarantees a disconnect.

Real question (1)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453551)

Why is it the federal government's job to fund this service at all?

Re:Real question (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454073)

Because scum bags like AT&T won't fund it themselves.

Re:Real question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39454121)

Because someone somewhere said "won't someone think of the deaf children with phones" and suddenly it was a federal emergency.

In a more complicated sense, the federal government has a list of explicit duties. Enough loud people don't like that list, but want the federal government involved in a different list of duties. A second loud group likes the explicit constitutional list, but thinks it's far too short. That leaves a third group regularly asking "why are there feds involved in this?" There is also a cynical fourth group who knows the answer to the third group's question.

Pay it. Move on. (1)

bengoerz (581218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453991)

I would expect AT&T to settle this quickly, possibly for full price. According to Yahoo Finance, AT&T is sitting on $3.18B in cash. Paying $15M to make this bad PR go away seems like a bargain.

Too big to care (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453999)

It's amazing to me that this corporation keeps breaking the law, yet somehow manages to keep getting away with it. How many people will drop AT&T over this? or this? [wired.com] , or this? [googleusercontent.com] Nobody.

Re:Too big to care (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39454213)

I stopped using AT&T a decade ago, and it doesn't seem to have helped.

I want my share (1)

wvczombie (2552836) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454481)

I figure it to be somewhere around 24 cents.

Just block Nigeria (1)

deciduousness (755695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455117)

Just block the whole country. All I see is issues from Nigeria, Brazil and Russia that account for 90 some percent of the attacks and spam.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>