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Scammers Lower Comcast Bills, Get Jail Time

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the no-one-weeps-for-comcast dept.

The Almighty Buck 103

An anonymous reader writes with news about a scam with a twist. The scammers purchased login details to internal Comcast systems from an employee using them to lower the bills of Comcast customers, for a price. "Alston Buchanan, the mastermind of a two-man scam to lower the bills of Comcast customers for a price, pleaded guilty last week and awaits sentencing. His accomplice, Richard Justin Spraggins, who also pleaded guilty in February, will serve 11-23 months in prison and pay Comcast $66,825. Their operation purportedly cost Comcast $2.4 million, and Comcast claims that the loss has forced them to raise the rates on all their customers. However, the allegedly huge financial loss went undetected until a Comcast customer reported his/her suspicions to Comcast customer service."

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103 comments

Something smells fishy here (4, Insightful)

penix1 (722987) | about 3 months ago | (#46813379)

His accomplice, Richard Justin Spraggins, who also pleaded guilty in February, will serve 11-23 months in prison and pay Comcast $66,825. Their operation purportedly cost Comcast $2.4 million, and Comcast claims that the loss has forced them to raise the rates on all their customers. However, the allegedly huge financial loss went undetected until a Comcast customer reported his/her suspicions to Comcast customer service."

So supposedly they lost $2.4 million yet the fine for one accomplice is is only $66,825??? And of course Comcast uses this incident as an excuse to raise the price on everyone including the fool that reported it... I guess the old adage "no good deed goes unpunished" applies here.

Re:Something smells fishy here (3, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | about 3 months ago | (#46813515)

the guy who did the internal investigation and lawyer costs... 2.4 million. I guess they're claiming that they don't know which discounted rates were legit and which were purchased so they removed the discount backdoor from the system. that's a bit fishy if they had used it for discounting feature for people who had suffered from service outages etc...

Re:Something smells fishy here (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 3 months ago | (#46817273)

If you think that is fishy, you might also ask how $2.4 million in loss, which I believe with investigation and legal fees etc.... but.... how does such a tiny loss compared to a company engaged in billion dollar deals.... translate into an increase in every customer's bill? By what, a penny?

Who is the real crook now, the guy who defrauded the big company, or the big company who used that fraud as an excuse for a naked price hike.

"We are raising money for the douglasses, they got robbed last week"
"Oh my how much have you raised"
"About 10,000 dollars"
"Oh my god how much got stolen"
"Oh they lost about 2 grand, but if we reach our goal of 20,000 we can pay them back 80% of it after our salaries on the committee of course"

Re:Something smells fishy here (3, Insightful)

gsslay (807818) | about 3 months ago | (#46813591)

they lost $2.4 million yet the fine for one accomplice is is only $66,825???

You want to know the definition of pointless? Fining someone more money than they actually possess. You could demand $2.4 million if it makes you feel better, but you ain't getting it.

"the fool that reported it"

Some of us might like to think of "the fool" as "the honest individual". I guess it depends on the quality of your moral compass.

Re:Something smells fishy here (5, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | about 3 months ago | (#46813619)

When dealing with Comcast my moral compass doesn't read accurately because of all of their bullshit.

Re:Something smells fishy here (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 3 months ago | (#46816461)

Forget moral compass, logical thought completely disappears. "Comcast did or said something, or something happened or was said to comcast: prepare for the internet to get slower and the bill to go up, and some assholes to blabber on about freedoms from government intrusion."

Re:Something smells fishy here (4, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#46813621)

Apparently you've never been to court. The judge sure as hell doesn't care how much money you have or if you'll ever be able to repay it. I've had a large settlement against a guy since the early 90s (he broke into my house while drunk and destroyed everything I owned at the time.) He sends me about $50/yr because, even 20yrs later he's still a looser and in and out of jail. The only reason he sends me anything is because he's basically constantly on parole and they make it a condition. I could sue him, but that would be an exercise in futility and cost me thousands. But, the point is, when he lost the original case, the judge had no problem fining him for the actual damages, even though there was basically never a way for him to pay it off unless he won the lottery.

Re:Something smells fishy here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813709)

unless he won the lottery.

Keep hoping! One day the guy might buy a lottery ticket and WIN!

Re:Something smells fishy here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813737)

He could also die and have a huge insurance policy. If he did it right, Charliemopps would be first in line before his children & wife, credit cards, etc.

Re:Something smells fishy here (2)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 3 months ago | (#46813845)

He could also die and have a huge insurance policy. If he did it right, Charliemopps would be first in line before his children & wife, credit cards, etc.

Unlikely. But unless things have changed, no one but the beneficiary can touch a dime of life insurance money.

Re:Something smells fishy here (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about 3 months ago | (#46815391)

There is also a 20 year limit on liability from lawsuits, at least in Indiana. The debt will probably expire and is unenforceable.

Re:Something smells fishy here (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 3 months ago | (#46817383)

Debts can "expire" (i.e. cease to be legally enforceable) if ignored for several years, but if he's paying $50/year or so, each payment probably renews the debt and will keep it from expiring.

As for a new lawsuit, I don't know how that would work. But the debt probably isn't expiring if the guy is making periodic token payments just to appease his probation officer.

Re:Something smells fishy here (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46814085)

There is a way to get a return on that, you know.

Barring severe issues, sponsoring the guy in AA and helping him find a job & get his life back together could get you all your money payed back.

Just sayin'

Re:Something smells fishy here (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46816121)

The risk/reward ratio of doing this would be lower than traditional investments. Otherwise you'd see rich people "Taming the Shrew" all the time in exchange for a percentage of the poor person's future earnings.

JC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46815761)

those who forgive shall be forgiven

Re:Something smells fishy here (1)

Thruen (753567) | about 3 months ago | (#46813745)

they lost $2.4 million yet the fine for one accomplice is is only $66,825???

You want to know the definition of pointless? Fining someone more money than they actually possess. You could demand $2.4 million if it makes you feel better, but you ain't getting it.

Probably worth pointing out that they charged 5,790 customers $75-$150 for this, at the low end that puts their profits around half a million dollars. At the high end, over $800k. The fine is entirely insufficient, which I'm still alright with because fining them enough would mean they're treated worse than corporations, and that's never fun to see.

Re:Something smells fishy here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46817955)

Honest individual? More like useful idiot.

I can only hope the rat gets outed and an appropriate trial can be held in the court of public opinion.

Re:Something smells fishy here (1)

danlip (737336) | about 3 months ago | (#46818005)

Some of us might like to think of "the fool" as "the honest individual". I guess it depends on the quality of your moral compass.

or "dirty fink". Hey, my compass works fine.

Re:Something smells fishy here (1, Informative)

Thruen (753567) | about 3 months ago | (#46813701)

I believe the $2.4 million number, it does say that 5,790 customers saved an average of $414 which puts it around $2.4 million, and savings like that wouldn't be difficult to achieve over maybe six months time without Comcast noticing the difference. As to the excuse, yeah it's nothing but. They have about 21 million customers, so this cost them a little over a dime per customer. I'm for fining the guys who did it, but jail time is completely ridiculous for how little this affected Comcast, as is suggesting they'd have to charge the rest of us more to make up for it.

Re:Something smells fishy here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813717)

They'd have to charge the 'rest of you' by about 1 cent.

Oh wow.

Hell, if I were comcast? I'd send a letter to every customer saying the $0.01 increase in their bill was because of these people.
The other $0.01 increase is to cover 'administration fees of sending this letter' and actually paying for the paper.
(Or just send them an email)

Re:Something smells fishy here (1)

Meyaht (2729603) | about 3 months ago | (#46814747)

They didn't make enough money to be exempt from the legal process. Had they successfully taken and laundered a few hundred million before being caught, they could have just apologized to a congressional hearing.

Re:Something smells fishy here (1)

ausekilis (1513635) | about 3 months ago | (#46813915)

Even better... They lost $2.4 million and have to raise the prices on their customers. Yet this Time-Warner buyout is supposed to be in the billions?

Who the hell is fitting the bill for that?

Re:Something smells fishy here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46814857)

The really funny thing is that the "bad guys" (BG) gave the customers an existing rate. One which was lower and one which the customer could have asked for free. Cable companies have "customer retention" departments and their reps can give existing customers any special-rate currently in force. The customers are the big losers because they paid for something that was really free. LOL!!!

My step-dad was a Jew. (I'm a Goy.) He would tell me that only Gentiles pay retail. It pays to ask around and find the best deal. It is easy to get one with cable companies.

Is Comcast going after the customers? How about sending the cops after all these people? They only need one "Jane/John Doe" warrant, right?

Re:Something smells fishy here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46828709)

Depending on where you live Comcast can be your only choice of cable company. Asking around to find a better deal is basically calling them frequently and hoping you get someone who will change the price.

Re:Something smells fishy here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46815415)

You should be outraged that these freeloaders forced them to raise prices for the average Joe. Oddly though, now the anomaly is corrected are the prices going to go back down to normal? ...nope.

Forced them (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813383)

"Forced them to raise the rates on all their customers"

Literally everything forces them to raise their rates.

Re:Forced them (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813407)

Literally everything forces them to raise their rates.

Damn... You just forced them again with your comment! STOP!!!!

Re:Forced them (1)

jythie (914043) | about 3 months ago | (#46814187)

Well, their comment probably is wasting precious Comcast network bandwidth as people read it, so they must raise their rates in order to compensate for the increased non-tv load.

Re:Forced them (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813493)

these lucky 6000 customers were probably paying what they **would have been paying** had government regulation still existed with regards to cable tv rates. deregulation is not necessarily a good thing, especially in areas where there is virtually zero built-in competition for wireline coax-delivered services.

Re:Forced them (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813907)

>> they **would have been paying** had government regulation still existed with

Sign up now for ObamaCable. It will lower your monthly rates and if you like your channels you can keep your channels!!! There are millions of Americans currently being denied their basic human right to cable TV, who will be able to get subsidized cable under ObamaCable.

From the makers of ObamaCare: Idea's so great they're mandatory

the base rate IS regulated by the LFA government (3, Informative)

raymorris (2726007) | about 3 months ago | (#46814527)

The basic cable rate IS set by the government agency that issues the franchise (legally forced monopoly). That's known as the LFA. Until 1996-1999, the FCC mostly set that rate, now it's primarily set by the LFA.

During the period of double regulation, 1992-1999, rates increased at 5.6% per year. Once the FCC stepped aside, that was reduced to 4.6%.

So knowing that having Washington bureaucrats set rates increases them, what reduces rates? Rates are 22%-30% lower in areas with competition.

Re:the base rate IS regulated by the LFA governmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46816925)

A difference of one percent? Statistical noise. Hardly the cold grip of greedy "Washington bureaucrats"

High prices the direct result of competition-excluding franchise agreements, which are negotiated at a LOCAL level. Local politics you can count on being corrupt, as a rule.

I'll take my 1% federal over the bribery and graft that keeps my local municipality locked in to Comcast. Oh, there used to be competition at one time.. Before they were all bought out.

Re:the base rate IS regulated by the LFA governmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46817019)

cable companies around here raise their rates willynilly with absolutely NO approval needed from state or local (the franchise authority) government... only stipulation they seem to follow anymore is basic/expanded television packages "only" goes up once a year but even then they've broken that bit too in the past (i remember 3 increases in one calendar year before)...

internet has absolutely no oversight for rates, offerings or service quality. anything anyone's ever grumbled or complained about before now written into policy so they can do whatever the fuck they want to and get away with it. (throttling, filtering, ad injection, caps on previously marketed as 'unlimited' service, etc)

telephone has some oversight service quality, but not much.. may have short-term battery provided but reliability is no where near the standard for pots.. rates submitted to state but they are largely rubberstamped with no public hearings or comment periods.

Re:Forced them (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 3 months ago | (#46815549)

The problem is they are not de-regulated; in a lot of places there are regulations preventing competition. We need to get rid of bad regulation and add good regulation.

Re:Forced them (2)

flyneye (84093) | about 3 months ago | (#46813571)

Ahhh, takes me back to the days when we would just climb the pole and hook ourselves up. It would take 6 months or so till we got a postcard saying that we had cable and we should pay for it or they would unhook it. Then it would take another 6 months for them to unhook it. Mind you , this was LONG before the days of internet. Showtime could be had if someone stole an inline dongle, hooked right up between the coax and t.v. We didnt even necessarily need a cable box if the t.v. had individual tuning for each channel. Just tune in your favorite channels and there it was. Cable boxes had an on/off switch and a rotary knob to select channels.
Makes me recall that FOX used to have at least one nude scene a night on t.v. ....damn Im old....

As a current TWC customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813625)

As a current TWC customer, I for one welcome our new over media overlords!

Re:Forced them (2)

Drethon (1445051) | about 3 months ago | (#46813639)

"Record profits forced them to raise the rates on all their customers", next?

Re:Forced them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46815431)

If you hate conmcast, don't use them.

Re:Forced them (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 months ago | (#46818415)

Economy is great, raise the rates to take advantage of it!
Economy sucks, raise the rates so we can spend more and improve the economy!

2.4 million (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813399)

That must've drained the executive discretionary fund by at least half a percent. Raise the rates!

Comcast are greedy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813427)

>Comcast claims that the loss has forced them to raise the rates on all their customers.

Comcast would have done that regardless of if this had happened or not.

Re:Comcast are greedy (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813475)

Either pay the rates or don't, it's up to you. I'm sick of everyone complaining about Comcast's rates when things like food and gasoline are what they should be bitching about. If you don't like Comcast, switch to satellite or cut the cord and use the internet. Fuck.

Re:Comcast are greedy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813511)

So if Comcast charged you $1,000 a month, you'd quite blindly pay it, would you?

Re:Comcast are greedy (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813535)

His entire point was that you don't have to blindy pay Comcast a single cent, there are alternatives. You could even go without television at all without much difficulty. Food prices are rising faster than television rates, and that isn't something that can be avoided nearly as easily.

Re:Comcast are greedy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46814511)

Comcast is currently the only option for high-speed (>10 Mbps) internet for many people, and after the merger it will be the only option for virtually the entire US. They are losing subscribers to cable TV year after year, as people get fed up/use online streaming, but they are practically the only game in town for internet.

Re:Comcast are greedy (1)

gnupun (752725) | about 3 months ago | (#46813525)

Why are there only one or two cable companies? There should be 5 to 7 unless comcast has some revolutionary patented technology that everyone has to have. Many people are sick of the constant price gouging that is caused by lack of real competition.

This is where deregulation gets you (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813675)

De-regulate and you'll have cartels and collusion. People won't vote with their wallets because they typically can't find an alternative provider in their neighbourhood.

I have 8 ISPs capable of serving my househould, 6 of which serve via fiber and all of them are uncapped. The singular reason is that we have strict regulation, consumer watchdogs and a functioning government that has not been subject to regulatory capture from the telecoms industry (yet).

Re:Comcast are greedy (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 3 months ago | (#46813713)

If you don't like Comcast, switch to satellite or cut the cord and use the internet.

I did "cut the cord," so now I complain about Comcast's rates on Internet service. There is no alternative (I live in an older neighborhood with shitty copper, just far enough from the Wi-Max towers to fail to get a signal).

Re:Comcast are greedy (1)

JRV31 (2962911) | about 3 months ago | (#46813777)

A few summers ago, when gas hit $4.00/gallon I added it up and I was paying more for bandwidth (cable, telephone, wife's cell, and internet) than I was for energy. (gas for two cars, natural gas and electricity) I ditched cable, eliminated one phone line, and my wife got a cheaper cell plan. Ditching cable was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

How was it done? (1)

abednegoyulo (1797602) | about 3 months ago | (#46813465)

1. Removed BS items from customers' bill?
2. Removed legitimate items from the customers' bill?
3. Price of certain items were modified?

TFA only says "accounts were changed". IMHO comcast has some explaining to do to its customers if it were case 1.

Re:How was it done? (1)

swb (14022) | about 3 months ago | (#46814927)

My guess is that the options for cutting a bill are limited because Comcast probably doesn't enable a random customer service agent to change pricing in any meaningful way to prevent unauthorized "friends and family" discounts. Large credits probably require at least one level of supervisory approval and are probably audited closely.

I would think that the CRM system they used has some kind of tie-in to the provisioning system as well, so if you had a bunch of pay channels and you edited the subscription level to lower prices you would probably lose the premium services, if not right away then in some kind of periodic reconciliation when provisioning was aligned with billing.

My guess is that they probably moved the discounted accounts into promotional discount tiers. This wouldn't affect service negatively and might fly under the audit radar, at least at the time it was done.

Pretty blatant. (2)

Ecuador (740021) | about 3 months ago | (#46813487)

Customers were not charged retroactively for the discounted amounts, but their bills were "corrected on a moving-forward basis."

Well, of course, otherwise they will lose this great excuse for a price hike.

Also, unless their billing system is completely ridiculous, an employee account would only be able to switch users to a lower existing plan (e.g. some sort of concession), and I doubt that even their most discounted plans lose money. In the end, they claim to have lost 2.4 million (not clear if it is in less than a year) out of 16 billion annual revenue - so, what is it, a 0.015% price increase? But anyway this is Comcast...

Re:Pretty blatant. (1)

duke_cheetah2003 (862933) | about 3 months ago | (#46813715)

Customers were not charged retroactively for the discounted amounts, but their bills were "corrected on a moving-forward basis."

This part doesn't make sense to me, obviously these customers were just as active in defrauding Comcast, they should be required to pay the money they owe at a minimum, criminal charges seems more appropriate. Why play favorites? They're equally guilty as the perpetrators of the scam. Without them, the scam wouldn't have worked.

Re:Pretty blatant. (2)

mooingyak (720677) | about 3 months ago | (#46813751)

Customers were not charged retroactively for the discounted amounts, but their bills were "corrected on a moving-forward basis."

This part doesn't make sense to me, obviously these customers were just as active in defrauding Comcast, they should be required to pay the money they owe at a minimum, criminal charges seems more appropriate. Why play favorites? They're equally guilty as the perpetrators of the scam. Without them, the scam wouldn't have worked.

Probably because some of them were legitimately handled by the employee in question, and determining actual liability on each and every one of them would be prohibitively expensive. Would be my guess.

Re:Pretty blatant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46814003)

Not necessarily. The employees in question may have posed as legitimate Comcast representatives or third-party resellers who were offering "limited time offers" or other such made-up promotions to prospective customers. Certainly some of the customers may have been complicit, but some probably just thought they got a good deal by being an "early bird" or whatever crap these guys told them. I know I've gotten significant discounts with telecom providers by threatening to cancel services, complaining about outages or saying I'll move to a competitor just by talking to somebody at the call center. It is completely reasonable that many people would believe the discounts were sanctioned by the company. It would be very difficult to determine which customers fell into which group.

Re:Pretty blatant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46814265)

Also, unless their billing system is completely ridiculous, an employee account would only be able to switch users to a lower existing plan

Given the complexity of Comcast's billing, it is very likely that there are a number of employees who are authorized to give discounts when Comcast makes mistakes.

Nonsense (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 months ago | (#46813491)

2.4 million dollars is irrelevant in that enterprise.

They spend a good deal more then that on a single executive's pay.

Irrelevant??? (1, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | about 3 months ago | (#46813579)

$200 is irrelevant to the GDP of Walmart so I guess I should not feel guilty about lifting an iPod either.

Heck, in fact I guess we now have license to commit theft whenever the market cap of a company goes over a certain threshold. What is that threshold? 10 million? 100 million?

Please enlighten me when it is OK to steal from a company and when it is not.

Re:Irrelevant??? (4, Insightful)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 months ago | (#46813693)

I'm not justifying the theft, asshat. I'm pointing out that that its such a tiny blip in their expenses that it doesn't justify an across the board price increase.

For example... lets say I own a sandwich shop. And one day, my father comes to visit my sandwich shop and I give him a free sandwich. That means my shop made less money per sandwich sold then it would have if I had made my father pay for his sandwich.

Will I now have to increase prices on all my sandwiches to cover this expense?

Obviously fucking not.

Thank you for arriving on the same page I was reading from. I am NOT justifying the theft. I am saying rather that Comcast has billions in revenue... 2.4 million lost here or there spread across the whole subscriber base wouldn't add so much as a PENNY to the cost of the average user.

Not one fucking cent.

So comcast on that note can blow it directly out their ass. Were they robbed? Yes. Is that bad? Yes. Do I approve of robbery? No. Do I think Comcast is a terrible company that should get ripped apart why wolves? Yes. Will I release those wolves on it to do just that? No. Will I clap and giggle should that happen? Yes.

Just what is, my bucko.

You are right but missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813823)

Comcast are a monopoly in many places and doubtless participate in price-fixing in many others. The amount they charge customers literally has nothing whatsoever to do with how much it costs them to provide a service. It is simply the largest amount they can get away with charging people.

Re:You are right but missing the point (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 months ago | (#46813881)

I agree of course. My point was that they could not justify the price increase on the basis of a theft that consumed less then a percent of a percent of their revenue.

Re:Irrelevant??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46814009)

Truly, if their budget is so tight that 0.015% of their revenue destroys them, they need to readjust their business model. That's the kind of chump change that gets allocated every year for random bullshit - which large corporations are subjected to all the time. I imagine they'll increase all of their rates by $1-5, far more than even 1%, recoup the loss in a month or two, and continue with the hiked up prices.

Re:Irrelevant??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813731)

$200 is irrelevant to the GDP of Walmart so I guess I should not feel guilty about lifting an iPod either.

You should have picked a more sympathetic company - maybe Costco. Walmart has no problem cheating their employees [boilermakers.org] , destroying communities, destroying local businesses and pretty much screwing over everyone they can.,p/>Sam Walton was a lying piece of shit Southern white trash who got real lucky and left a legacy that sells out America benefiting the Chinese.

Re:Irrelevant??? (1)

the_fat_kid (1094399) | about 3 months ago | (#46814403)

I'll bite.
let's call it $10.000.00.00
Hungry? eat the rich.
if money = speech then theft = poetry

Re:Irrelevant??? (1)

CauseBy (3029989) | about 3 months ago | (#46815189)

Sure. $100M sounds pretty good. The way I would structure it is:

1. Corporations pay taxes exactly the same as individuals
1A. That means the same rates and brackets apply
1B. That means we either eliminate the Business Expense Deduction, or we make all Living Expenses deductible, so that both corporations and individuals pay gross or net, but corporations don't get to pay net while individuals have to pay gross
2. The income rate scales up slowly and tops out at 100%, perhaps at an income of something like $100million

This would have a couple effects:

* Rich assholes would no longer be able to avoid taxes by calling their vacations and fancy clothes "business expenses"
* Corporations would be naturally limited in size as they balance higher tax rates with efficiencies of scale
* We would mitigate the disastrous accumulation of power (wealth) which Americans have always known to be bad for freedom

Re:Irrelevant??? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 months ago | (#46819745)

You don't know what that would do...

It would destroy the corporations outright. They would not be able to operate.

The economy would collapse.

The real story is that the taxes you're talking about are the sort that only the middle class really pay. And I agree that is crappy.

Note that tax systems are set up not to be fair or just or reasonable but to generate money. That is really the only thing that you can take for granted with a tax system is that it will generate revenue.

As to income tax going up to a 100 percent, I'm not sure I know what the point of that would be... are you trying to make sure that we have no billionaires?

Why would you do that? Billionaires are occasionally very useful. They found companies. Do great works. It does happen. And you'd lose that if you made that impossible.

I think your idea is that the government should control everything and nothing big should exist except for the government.

The problem with that is that the same people you don't like running corporations will just run the government instead. Where not only will they have everything they have now but they'll have the force of law.

Re:Irrelevant??? (1)

CauseBy (3029989) | about 3 months ago | (#46820253)

It would destroy the corporations outright. They would not be able to operate.

I have heard that before but I don't think it makes any sense. What exactly would make the corporations collapse? They'd have a different cost structure so they'd have a different price structure. Obviously it would be a shift in where tax dollars come from so there would be rate adjustments. Individuals would find themselves with a lot more money but higher product costs, in exact proportion. Where in that is economic collapse? We'd have incentives for corporations of a different size than we have today, specifically for more smaller corporations, which would increase diversity in the marketplace and competition. In what way is that an unviable economy?

As to income tax going up to a 100 percent, I'm not sure I know what the point of that would be... are you trying to make sure that we have no billionaires?

Mmm, I'm not sure where the cutoff would be exactly, but a billion dollars? Yeah maybe I'm trying to make sure there are no accumulations of power that large. Maybe two billion? I don't know. Somewhere in that ballpark. Richass people could still found plenty of corporations with a billion dollars.

Do great works. It does happen. And you'd lose that if you made that impossible.

Yeah it would be a tradeoff like everything is. We'd get a more shared economy, we'd avoid excessive accumulations of power, we'd increase competition, we'd make the tax code more equitable -- and we'd lose out on the larger-than-1-billion-dollar corporations that occasionally get started all with money from one single person (are you sure that ever happens?).

I think your idea is that the government should control everything and nothing big should exist except for the government.

Mmm, sort of, but "the government" isn't one thing, either. I'm a big checks-and-balances guy which is the entire reason I oppose accumulation of excessive power (money). I don't even want a President to amass unchecked power, much less do I want an unelected evil asshole to do so. Our American system is not perfect but it's pretty good from the government side, but the nongovernment private sector is a scary source of tyrannical power.

Re:Irrelevant??? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 months ago | (#46821371)

First, corporations are double taxed currently.

They pay taxes as a corporation, then their investors pay taxes on dispensed profits.

It is ultimately the investors in the company that make the company a viable investor. If you tax the company at a higher rate, then the profit from investing in the company will make corporate investment a bad investment.

Second, while any cost can be passed on to consumers, I don't think you appreciate that the cost structure would be such a massive shock to the system that it would cause an economic collapse in and of itself. Suddenly, prices would jump by a factor of four to ten depending on the margin of the business. Workers would not be making enough or have enough saved to pay those prices. There would be mass layoffs. Many companies would not adapt and go out of business outright. There would of course be social unrest, political upheaval, and I wouldn't be surprised that if YOU personally were both known to be responsible and available... you'd probably be ripped apart by a mob.

Not a threat... I don't hold anything against you at all. I'm just pointing out... you do this, people know you did it, and you're there... they'll rip you apart alive.

Third, your idea like most bad social and economics ideas is not sustainable. That is really the big problem with it. If the government were taking true double taxation from a corporation that would mean a corporation would have to be about 40 ~ 60 percent more efficient then a single proprietor. They're not. Corps would die under your idea. Which would mean everything would have to be run by non-corporate interests. So individual business owners, partnerships, etc. These entities are not directly taxed but rather taxed through their owners unlike corporations which are taxed separately.

The problem with single owners and partnerships which used to be the primary economic driver is estate taxes. The government takes a big piece of someone's assets when they die. Imagine if every 30 years half of IBM or Ford was taken by the government to pay for the death of an owner? This is why you don't get many large companies that are owned by a single person anymore. They don't survive.

Beyond that, you also have issues of raising capital. If I'm going to make a million cars I need a lot of money to build big factories and get the supply chain going. Actually finding that much money without resorting to a stock market system is pretty much impossible. What you might get are small companies that produce maybe a hundred cars a year and probably less. And those companies are going to charge a much higher rate for their goods.

The society you envision would be poor and unstable. It might be innovative. There are advantages to having lots of small companies with effectively more independent control over things. So I'll grant you that. But each one will also have less resources so they might just be so hand to mouth that they don't have the time for innovation. Keep in mind that humanity has been in that position in the past. Our ancestors hung out on a beach in africa eating shell fish for about 30 thousand years... we have the fossil record. Not much happened... we just survived.

Don't get mad at me please... I'm not some corporate shadow entity for you to battle with... I'm just a guy. I'm your neighbor. And I'm asking you please not to fuck the world up more then it is already.

I know the world is messed up. I feel you. I really do. If I had a magic wand I'd wave it make everything right. But neither of us have that power. We have to content with the lesser evils because there are greater ones out there ready to eat us all alive. Please. Don't be stupid. Make your bargains with evils you can tolerate. The alternative is not worth contemplating.

Re:Irrelevant??? (1)

CauseBy (3029989) | about 2 months ago | (#46823297)

I've heard before all that you said but I've never found it convincing at all. I'm pretty sure that if human beings manage to pay taxes on gross income without ceasing to exist, then other taxpaying entities can do the same. There has never been a time in the history of humanity when taxing companies caused the companies to die: the companies have a new cost, so they raise their prices; done, it's obvious and happens all the time.

The people who would 'lose' in this scenario are the rich motherfuckers who today don't pay their fair share because their Porches and their Thailand vacations and their jet airplanes homes are written off as business expenses. Everyone who isn't one of those rich motherfuckers would get a small bump in relative income.

The "double taxation" rhetoric is especially bothersome to me. Nobody says that a poor human is double-taxed when they earn a dollar (income tax on wages) and spend the dollar (sales tax) so it's nonsense to say that a corporation is double-taxed when it profits by a dollar and then when it gives that money away to another person as that person's income. If shareholders don't want to pay taxes on their dividends, then easy, just leave that money with the corporation and it won't get taxed as personal income, because it won't be personal income. This is what Apple is doing with its hundred billion dollars. Boo hoo, rich people want free money, yeah I know, but the world won't stop going around if they don't get it.

My basic thesis is that rich people use corporations to avoid paying their share of taxes, and therefore we should do whatever it takes to stop them. The easy way to do this is to fully embrace the "corporations are people" concept for the purposes of taxation. Just have the same rules for corps and humans, and there won't be a way to cheat.

Re:Irrelevant??? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 months ago | (#46823725)

If that is the simplistic depth you're willing to look into on this issue then you're beyond intelligent reason.

You are unfortunately guilty of fraud in this case since you entered a discussion where rational discourse was a presupposed feature. Please either leave these boards or preface future discussions with the statement that you are not a rational player.

Good day, sir.

Re:Irrelevant??? (1)

CauseBy (3029989) | about 3 months ago | (#46830099)

/sigh/ I've asked so many people to tell me why taxing corporate gross income would kill corporations, nobody can explain it, although everyone assumes it. I'll ask the next person, too, I guess. Most people give it a better shot than you did before giving up.

Re:Irrelevant??? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 months ago | (#46830593)

Excuse me, I did just explain it.

What you're not getting is that the profits are taxed TWICE.

LISTEN MOTHER FUCKER.

TWICE.

2

TWO

TWICE.

Once at the corporate level

Again at the investor level.

Okay, if a corporation makes 1 million dollars in profit and 40-50 percent of that is taken by the various government taxes. That leaves HALF the original profits to be divided amongst the investors.

Okay, now upon receiving those profits, each of those investors has those profits taxed again at a rate that could be about 40-50 percent. Which means of the initial 1 million dollars in profit, the effective end profit will be 250,000 dollars.

Now compare that to a limited liability partnership where taxes are ONLY paid by the owners/investors and not at the company level. In that situation 1 million dollars profit after tax would be 500,000 dollars. That is the corporate model under your idea would be HALF as efficient as a partnership or other organizational models.

Do you understand now?

Lets increase the numbers so you can understand why ratios matter.

Lets say the company makes 10 billion in profit a year. Okay, after tax that's 5 billion. And after the second round of taxes down to 2.5 billion. Where as if you avoided the penalty you're trying to impose you'd make an additional 2.5 billion a year.

This is why corporations tend to pay something between 0 - 10 percent income tax. They would not be viable if they paid half their earnings every year. What is more, they are still paying full property tax, full sales tax, and all sorts of other fee related taxes.

And beyond that without them you wouldn't have as many people getting paid that themselves will pay the 40-50 percent taxes.

This notion that corporations don't pay their fair share is a view seated almost entirely in ignorance.

No offense.

If you want to tax corporations at 50 percent, you must negate the capital gains tax entirely. That is, no taxes on profits earned by investing in companies because the taxes owed were already paid by the company.

That would work if you wanted to do it.

But you can't tax the money twice.

Right now the corporations don't really pay much income tax but investors DO pay. THEY pay. The INVESTORS PAY.

But if you don't like that and want the corporations to pay. Fine. Allow the investors to stop paying and the corporations can start paying. Then its the same thing only it likely appears differently to people not paying attention.

Again... truly... no offense.

Re:Irrelevant??? (1)

CauseBy (3029989) | about 3 months ago | (#46838811)

It's not double taxation. It's just not, because the money transfers from one entity to another. If the corporation earns profits and keeps the money in a corporate bank account, it pays only corporate income tax. When money is disburse to investors, then the money changes hands, and a taxable event has occurred.

Some people want to pretend that an investor "is" the corporation but that is just rhetorical hand-waving by tax cheats to try to justify paying less. If an investor were the "same" as the corporation, then we could sue the investor when the corporation does something wrong. And they can bellyache about how unfair it is that corporations and investors are taxed this way, but obviously the benefits of incorporation are significant enough that companies choose it over partnership, or else we'd live in a world with zero corporations and 100% limited-liability partnerships, right? So whatever the costs are, it's evidently worth it.

If you want to tax corporations at 50 percent, you must negate the capital gains tax entirely. That is, no taxes on profits earned by investing in companies because the taxes owed were already paid by the company.

The taxes owed by the company are paid by the company, and then the company has money in a bank account. That money never gets taxed again. That's single taxation.

Then the money transfers from the corporate bank account to an investor's bank account. This means it is no longer the corporation's money, now it's the investor's money. The investor pays tax. That's single taxation.

Imagine a company earns some profit and pays tax on it. Now it has money in its bank account. It uses that money to pay a salary, and also to disburse to an investor. Why would the employee have to pay tax when the investor doesn't? By your reasoning "that money has already been taxed" so the employee should get it tax-free, because, hey, it's already been taxed once right? No, of course not. When money transfers from entity to entity, that is a taxable event.

To be clear, I don't want "the corporations" to pay. Corporations are imaginary. I want to fully tax the individual human beings who today get to enjoy playboy lifestyles tax-free by drawing a legal corporation around their party expenses.

PS I said "I've asked so many people to tell me why taxing corporate gross income would kill corporations, nobody can explain it" and you responded with this discussion about double taxation, but it doesn't follow: whether we tax dividends is not related to whether we allow business expense deductions, and even if it were, it doesn't explain why corporations would cease to exist if we taxed gross income.

Small time crooks (3, Insightful)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | about 3 months ago | (#46813595)

As we know, only small time crooks get jail time.
Their error was that they didn't operate out of Wall Street.

Credibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813633)

Oh come on, somebody just drop a nuke on comcast already?

Please?

I promise that nothing of any real value would be lost?

You know these evil fucks deserve it.

They timed this crime right (2)

paiute (550198) | about 3 months ago | (#46813659)

If things continue along their current path, in the not too distant future crimes against Comcast will carry the death penalty.

Re:They timed this crime right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46815485)

The funny thing here is that the whole system Comcast put in place here is nothing but a practice of predatory pricing. The joke being that the discount system is supposed to allow them discretion to overcharge some people and undercharge others. They got bitten by their own system and now they're crying to the judge. Comical.

Stick it to the man. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46813679)

I smell a scapegoat here.

"forced them to raise the rates" is a lie. (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 3 months ago | (#46813801)

If they could make more money raising rates, then they would. It's not like a business tries to make the minimumn possible profit. They price at what they think the customers will pay. Someone else taking away their customers does not affect this value.

But they're not going to get a lot of sympathy if they complain that it's slightly cutting into their billions of dollars of revenue, so they try to get everyone on their side by suggesting the scammers were stealing from the customers.

"Huge" financial loss????! (1)

darkonc (47285) | about 3 months ago | (#46813947)

. Their operation purportedly cost Comcast $2.4 million, and Comcast claims that the loss has forced them to raise the rates on all their customersHowever, the allegedly huge financial loss .....

2.4million is 0.03% of their NET income in 2013. it's ... what, $.01 per customer per month??

Re:"Huge" financial loss????! (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | about 3 months ago | (#46815957)

Same sort of math used by **AA to exaggerate loss due to piracy, while in fact research suggested that piracy actually help propel studios and labels to record profits in recent years.

Insanity (1)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 3 months ago | (#46814027)

This illustrates the insanity of our society (USA). 57-115 years in jail, and no one other than a legal fiction was harmed at all? Meanwhile a murder gets less than that. It's insanity.

Re:Insanity (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 3 months ago | (#46816077)

I once shot a corporation in Reno just to watch it die.

Liars .. (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 3 months ago | (#46814041)

Their operation purportedly cost Comcast $2.4 million, and Comcast claims that the loss has forced them to raise the rates on all their customers.

So any old excuse will do, eh?

Oh, my, there was a wind storm, we need to raise your rates.

Boo, due to additional usage during the Olympic season, we need to raise your rates.

Due to a need to meet targets for executive bonuses, we need to raise your rates.

I don't believe the rates these companies are tied to market factors any more than I believe anything they say. Because, quite frankly, telcos mostly just raise your rates because they feel like it, because they're ran by greedy assholes.

Awwww poor Comcast (1)

Carnivore24 (467239) | about 3 months ago | (#46814087)

Can you just imagine the horror and emotional damage Comcast went through for this? Americans must unite and keep electing people into office that will continue to protect and nurture our corporate overlords!

Comcast lying to raise rates... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 months ago | (#46814299)

Yet another reason that I will never ever give comcast a dime of my money. These scumbags are claiming they must raise rates? They already make record profits.

Re:Comcast lying to raise rates... (1)

riis138 (3020505) | about 3 months ago | (#46816413)

and they provide crap service. The funny thing is, people here in the Midwest think they are getting "fast" internet. Little do they know we are far behind the rest of the world.

It's not a "scammer" if they ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46814387)

It's not a "scammer" if they actually went through and provided described services.to their customers.

Fraudster or similar would be a bit more accurate.

Laugh (1)

koan (80826) | about 3 months ago | (#46814689)

These guys are heros.

What? Am I guilty too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46814779)

I do [something like] this all the time.
I call their "customer retention" department and tell them one of their competitors offered a "sweetheart" deal. They will give me a deal that is similar and/or better and lower my bill. The last time, their offer was for 2 years and was 1 year longer than the offer from AT&T. I keep all the offers that I receive to ask about. Works every time.

These poor miscreants should have just called "customer retention" for the current deal.

It's Com-castic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46815017)

'nuff said.

I have no problem with this (3, Insightful)

neminem (561346) | about 3 months ago | (#46815477)

When I read the title, I was like, holy crap, someone got sent to jail for tricking Comcast into giving them a lower rate? That's a new low.

But no, after reading the whole description - while I have absolutely no sympathy for Comcast whatsoever, that definitely sounds like a legitimate crime that deserves jail time, even if the victims of the crime are also scum who deserve getting ripped off.

Comcast may be blocking slashdot because of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46815577)

Ironically I cannot access Slashdot via comcast direclty at the moment. Yet tor is working fine. Tracert and DNS check out. Anyone think comcast is blocking Slashdot viewers? I'm in the 174.50.x.x range usually. Anyone else having this issue?

Re:Comcast may be blocking slashdot because of thi (2)

ruir (2709173) | about 3 months ago | (#46816935)

Excellent comment, thank you. I too lost access to slashdot today for some time...

Re:Comcast may be blocking slashdot because of thi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46820521)

Same here. Was unable to access ./ through a home Comcast connection but was able to get to it by bouncing out of Comcast's network via SSH. Kind of interesting the timing of this article and the site block. Still don't want net neutrality?

Re:Comcast may be blocking slashdot because of thi (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 3 months ago | (#46829311)

Let me more clear...I am in Europe and had an outage too.

The real criminal (1)

riis138 (3020505) | about 3 months ago | (#46816385)

The real crime here is that Comcast is using this to force another rate increase on those of us that are given no other option for an isp.

Why is cable still usually a monopoly? (2)

kenj0418 (230916) | about 3 months ago | (#46818205)

Comcast claims that the loss has forced them to raise the rates on all their customers

And that is how you know you are dealing with a monopoly. If there was actual competition, then it would be hurting only their shareholders as they'd be forced to keep their prices at competitive, market levels.

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