Phone scheme sticks Kauai business with $145K bill

Long-distance phone bills can be expensive, but how much could a small accounting firm on Kauai really ring up? Usually, about $20.

That all changed in December.

“A bill shows up a week or so later from Sprint and it shows $145,000 phone bill. And that is normally something you laugh at and go, ‘Wow, that’s amazing’ and let’s give Sprint a call,” said Patrick Ibbs.

That’s not a typo. It’s $145,785.32 to be precise. The bill had page after page of charges, hundreds and hundreds of calls from just two phone lines, almost every single one going to Serbia.

While that’s jaw-dropping, what has happened in the weeks since is more distressing for the small business owner.

“But the fact that Sprint is taking the position, that, ‘Hey we’re not going to reverse these charges. It’s all on you.’ That’s kind of frightening for a small business,” Ibbs said.

Ibbs says his company phone system was hacked. He says Sprint noticed the fraud and stopped the fake calls after four hours of charges.

“They’re aware of the fraud. We’ve been dealing with their fraud department. Let’s have them reverse the charges, and they basically took the stance that ‘No, we’re not reversing the charges.’ It’s our system, it’s our responsibility to secure it, and they’re going to hold us to it.”

Ibbs sent a letter to Sprint headquarters in Kansas City and talked to the company’s fraud department trying to get some help, saying if he’s forced to pay the bill, he’ll go out of business.

“You’ve got a history of 10-plus years of long distance service with them, and consistently your bills are $16 to $22 a month, no international calls. And then all of a sudden they’re going to allow $145,000 of charges through before they finally shut it down? To us, that seems a little ridiculous,” Ibbs said.

KHON2 tried to contact Sprint as well for answers, and put them back in touch with Ibbs to get him some kind of help.

We’ll keep following up to see what happens.

Related Link: FCC voice mail fraud tips

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