December 3, 2021

Big US wireless companies target of whistleblower suit

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whistle-Article-201512082154By Marisa Kendall, From The Recorder
A newly-unsealed lawsuit in Sacramento County accuses some of the nation’s biggest wireless service providers of defrauding the state of California by charging for services they didn’t provide.
The suit accuses Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile and AT&T Mobility of falsely claiming they were “optimizing” phone rates for nearly two dozen California cities, counties, school districts and fire districts. The carriers had promised to re-evaluate plaintiffs’ rate plans regularly to ensure they weren’t signed up for too many or too few minutes, according to the complaint filed in 2012 and unsealed for the first time Tuesday.
“They did not in fact provide this important and bargained for cost-cutting service as promised,” wrote Anne Hayes Hartman of Constantine Cannon, who represents plaintiffs. “Instead, they continued to falsely bill for their services as if they had optimized.”
The whistleblower suit was brought by OnTheGoWireless, a company that specializes in wireless plan optimization. OnTheGo is litigating on behalf of the state of California and dozens of other local government entities, including Mountain View, Oakland, San Jose, the San Francisco Unified School District and the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, in the qui tam action.
Cannon estimates defendants will be on the hook for at least $100 million, which would be tripled to $300 million under the California False Claims Act. Government purchasers spent more than a billion dollars on hundreds of thousands of phone lines since 2005, according to the complaint.
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