It’s not just small fry getting hooked in the great modem hijacking/dialer scam.
The Derrick, a publication from Pennsylvania’s Oil City, reports the town’s former mayor has become embroiled, demanding Verizon forgive $1,200 in charges. Verizon has so far refused to forgive Malachy McMahon’s debt.
McMahon is going after Verizon, who he sees as complicit in the scam: “For a corporation to condone and profit from this is beyond me, in the case of Verizon,” the publication quoted McMahon as saying. “It’s illegal activity. They’re after phone usage. It’s big-time money when they go overseas.” Local prosecutors are looking into this and other cases.
Part of the problem is that the billing is not just to the telco. Another company, National One Telecom, claims he owes $76 for calls. National One seems to make its money from charging an “entertainment fee” for accessing certain websites — which are not named on the bills. Some of the fee goes to the telco, some to National One. This is how National Telecom describes itself:
National One Telecom, Inc.’s mission is to provide billing solutions for clients with audiotext services, videotext services, long distance services, and other telecommunications services.
Our goal is to seamlessly merge Internet technologies with technologies seen in traditional telephone networks. Together with our clients we create a bridge between the two allowing for better ecommerce and telephone access to a wide national audience.
In addition to this, we are committed to helping our customers understand these new billing solutions and are willing to walk them through step by step in case they have any questions or problems. Thank you for your business.
Hmm. The most amusing bit of the Derrick story is this end quote from a Verizon spokesman: Modem hijacking, while “an industry-wide problem, is not really a telephone-company issue per se. It’s really an Internet issue.” Sure. Telcos, watch out.