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Service intended for the deaf used for fraud

Service intended for the deaf used for fraud

An Austin man is arrested and the Round Rock company he worked for charged
with fraud.

David Simmons is one of 26 people from eight states accused of defrauding
the Federal Communication Commission’s Video Relay Program which helps the
deaf communicate electronically. Simmons was the marketing director for
Mascom.

The US Attorney General’s Office says seven companies including Mascom,
which was located in Round Rock, billed the government almost 400 dollars an
hour.

We’re told the money came from a fund everyone who has a land line pays
into.

The government says the centers never took calls but turned in bills totally
more than 50 million dollars.

“They were running up money and taxpayers were paying for services that
weren’t occurring,” says Assistant United States Attorney General Lanny
Breuer.

Delia Mott Merritt is an Austin interpreter who has worked with the deaf for
two decades. Mott Merritt says the deaf depend on interpreters being there
when they need them.

“You and I can go and freely speak to the doctor and he can freely speak to
us,” says Mott Merritt. “The interpreter helps the deaf community do the
same thing.”

The government alleges that instead of helping the deaf some of the call
centers were calling radio stations.

The Federal Communication Commission says it still supports the video relay
service, but will work to safeguard the program from further fraud and
abuse.

Source: http://weareaustin.com/content/news/story?cid=38422

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