AT&T (NYSE: T) has asked the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to dismiss a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) suit that alleges the company benefited from government payments for an IP Relay service for the deaf that was being used by Nigerian scam artists as a platform to order items with stolen credit cards and counterfeit checks.
The DOJ, which decided to take part in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by former AT&T employee Constance Lyttle, said that AT&T not only let the Nigerian criminals use the system, but that it also billed the government to reimburse it for the calls in violation of the False Claims Act.
However, AT&T argued in a filing that the DOJ's complaint is an "improper and brazen attempt to use the False Claims Act to litigate a garden-variety regulatory claim."
The telco added in its filing that the government's claim that AT&T did not verify users' information does not support a False Claims Act suit.
With the IP Relay system, the deaf and hard of hearing can place calls to others by writing messages on the Internet.
The DOJ alleged that since 2009 up to 95 percent of the calls AT&T handled were made by fraudulent foreign callers and that the service provider did not verify each user was from the U.S.
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