(Photo: AP Photo / Wally Santana, File)
A Montana family has been charged in a $70 million phone scam. They allegedly ran a plan to charge customers extra phone fees they had not signed up for, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC claims that Steven Sann and his wife, Terry, son Nathan, and accountant Robert Braach created nine companies to form an intricate web of businesses that combined to conduct a "cramming" scheme.
Cramming is described as when unauthorized charges are added to a customer's phone bill - without their knowledge and consent.
Apparently the small team of alleged scammers ran the companies to implement voice mail and electronic fax services. They would charge customers' phone bills through an intermediary without authorization, according to claims.
The FTC believes that thousands of customers were charged who had not ordered their services. According to a Huffington Post report, the FTC claims the Sanns had more than 100,000 voicemail accounts with customers, but that only a dozen of them actually even used the service at all.
The figures strongly suggest that the customers had not signed up for the services and were not even aware they were being charged the extra fees for them.
The alleged scam netted the group about $70 million, according to The Huff Post report.
The FTC has asked a judge to issue a preliminary injunction to force the Sanns to stop operating and freeze their assets, according to KULR8.
According to the Inquisitr, Steven Sann is currently awaiting sentencing on a separate drug charge related to his investments in a medical marijuana business.
The report has also suggested that the group of alleged scammers has invested a large amount of the $70 million earned through the scam into purchases land. Other portions of the money has been reportedly placed into shell companies, which are just holding the company without using it and without employing any workers.
A number of the supposed customers are said to have stumbled upon the charges, and following making complaints have already received refunds.
As much as $40 million has reportedly already been returned to complaining customers for the unauthorized phone charges.