As part of the scam, AT&T accidentally allowed the scammers to charge $9 per month to customers for a fake directory assistance service, which was set up by suspected drug traffickers and used to launder money. The drug enforcement agency informed the FCC, and seized drugs, cars, jewelry, gold, and computers, according to the news release.
On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission issued a public statement announcing that carrier will be fined for allowing scammers to fraudulently charge landline subscribers, most of which are small businesses based in the Cleveland area. AT&T is required to cease billing for almost all third-party products and services on its wireless bills, and can only reinstate charges of that kind with express informed consent from customers. FCC concluded that AT&T allowed scammers to charge customers approximately Dollars 9 per month for a sham directory assistance service.
Both DDI and ETS purported to provide third-party directory assistance services to AT&T customers.
Some AT&T customers could see refunds coming their way.
AT&T will be the one footing the bill, agreeing to pay $6.8 million in refunds for letting the scam happen.
In addition to the $7.75 million in penalties, AT&T said in a statement that it has put much stricter requirements in place on third-party companies that bill its users.
The company said that it would send refund checks to customers within 90 days.
It's not the first time AT&T has been implicated in cramming schemes.
AT&T received a fee from the companies for each charge AT&T placed on its customers' bills. AT&T has also agreed to make revisions to its bills to explicitly show third-party charges.
The DEA then rightfully referred the case to the Enforcement Bureau of the FCC, which is the agency that regulates telecommunications, in 2015 for further investigation. The company also agreed to revise its billing procedures and practices to clearly inform customers of any third-party charges on their bills. The company will also pay an additional $950,000 fine to the US Treasury.
Unfortunately, it turns out that the placement of unauthorized, misleading, or deceptive charges on subscribers' telephone bills has become the norm for the big carriers in the US.