FTC Asks Court to Shut Down $70 Million Cramming Operation
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has asked a U.S. district court to halt an operation that allegedly placed more than $70 million in bogus charges on consumers' phone bills – charges for services the consumers never ordered, did not authorize, and often did not know they had.
As part of its continuing crackdown on fraud and deception, the FTC filed a complaint against American eVoice, Ltd., eight other companies, Steven Sann, and three other people for 'cramming' unauthorized charges onto consumers' phone bills.
The complaint also alleges that the Missoula, Montana-area defendants transferred the proceeds from their illegal cramming operation to a purported nonprofit, Bibliologic, Ltd., an organization that the FTC says has no right to the funds.
Hundreds of consumers complained that charges from $9.95 to $24.95 per month appeared out of the blue on their phone bills without their authorization. The FTC alleged that defendants told phone companies and third party 'billing aggregators' that the consumers had authorized the charges by filling out forms on the internet.
According to the complaint, since January 2008 the defendants have made a total of $70 million off unsuspecting consumers.
The FTC alleged that the defendants violated the Federal Trade Commission Act by:
- Unfairly billing consumers for services they did not authorize; and
- Deceptively representing that consumers were obligated to pay for the services.
To find out more about cramming and how to protect yourself from being illegally charged for services that you did not request, see Mystery Charges on Your Phone Bill.