"You'd have to be a genius to figure out all the taxes and numbers on here," said Clark Beerman who was a victim of this type of fraud.
The phone bill for Beermann's business is complex, but he began to notice a pattern.
"This one particular item kept showing up. This is where I found the charge they were sticking on my bill," Beerman explained.
It was buried below taxes and fees, and for most people who were targeted in this scam it ranged from around $13 to $40. These small amounts added up and tens of thousands of consumers were nickel-and-dimed out of millions.
It's called "cramming." Which is, "The placement of unauthorized charges on to a consumer or business's telephone bill," explained Andrew Wang, a US Postal Inspector.
In this case, two scam artists working through a middle man, told phone companies they were an internet directory and various people and businesses agreed to pay a monthly fee for their service.
But in reality, "They were perpetrating a false billing scheme," said Wang.
The victims, most of whom never noticed the charge, included thousands of business owners like Beerman, who eventually complained to their phone company. US Postal Inspectors then busted the operation.
"It might have been going on for a year; it could have gone on forever," Beerman said.
Even if it seems like a drag, check your phone bill, line by line. If you see any charges you're unsure of, call your provider.
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