June 6, 2014 – The Week in Phone Fraud

This week in Phone Fraud news saw a unique phone fraud scam bust by the Federal Government out of Oklahoma.

On Thursday, local Oklahoma news source newsOK broke the news, detailing how an Oklahoma telephone company, Icon Telecom, Inc. was implicated in a massive fraud scam. The company’s owner, as well as one of their vendors were both charged by federal authorities in a $25 million scheme to defraud a federal telephone subsidy program for low-income customers. Wesley Yui Chew, CEO for Icon Telecom Inc. and a Mexican national, Oscar Enrique Perez-Zumaeta, were charged in federal court in Oklahoma City in cases involving the federal Lifeline fund. Money for the Lifeline program actually comes from Universal Service Fund fees added to telephone customer bills on a monthly basis.

Authorities familiar with the case said Chew, 53 conspired with Perez-Zumaeta, 55, to get fraudulent reimbursements from the federal Lifeline fund. The scheme involved fake customer lists and recertification forms. Perez-Zumaeta directed his employees to go through phone books to find names and addresses for bogus Lifeline customers, and then sold wireless telephones registered to fake customers on the street for $5 each. PSPS Sales employees in Mexico forged about 40,000 signatures of customers for recertification forms needed for continued participation in the Lifeline program, according to the indictment.

Full Breakdown of This Week’s Phone Fraud News

NewsOK: Federal government charges Oklahoma telephone company, its owner and vendor with fraud – June 5, 2014

Guardian Series: Chingford man froze with fear after being targeted by ‘Vietnamese hackers’ – June 5, 2014

Yahoo News (Australia): Phone scammers impersonating Virgin Australia, Qantas staff, ACCC says – June 4, 2014

Jamestown Sun: Arrests made in alleged N.D. phone scam – June 4, 2014

Toledo Blade: Ohioans targeted by tax scams – June 3, 2014

WHSV 3 (Virginia): Man Warns Of Phone Scam – June 3, 2014

NJ.COM: Pitman police warn of scams that come door-to-door, by phone – June 2, 2014

The St. Petersburg Tribune: St. Pete police warn of phone scam – June 2, 2014