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Maryland Man's Robocall Scam Nets Him $4 Million

From the annals of ingenious scams, comes this report from the AP:

A pay phone owner is being charged with using his Washington-area phones to ring in $4 million in fraudulent 50-cent calls.

Prosecutors say Maryland resident Nicolaos Kantartzis rigged more than 100 pay phones he controlled to carry out an elaborate crank call scheme. He programmed the phones to robotically call toll-free numbers. For each call, he collected a 50-cent fee from the call recipient, even though no one was at the other end of the line. The scheme allegedly went on for six years.

The Washington Examiner reportsthat Kantartzis owns 165 phones and made calls to various federal agencies, including the U.S. General Services Administration, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Education and the Internal Revenue Service. The phones also called businesses like Dell Corporation and Fidelity Brokerage Services.

The Examiner reports Kantartzis pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud today.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.