Four Charged in Long-Distance Scheme

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Federal authorities have charged four businessmen with setting up a phony telemarketing company to defraud long-distance phone providers of millions of dollars in fees.

A federal indictment released July 17 charged that the four men acquired more than 600 phone lines in Indianapolis under the guise of running a catalog and telemarketing operation. The lines belonged to long-distance carrier Ameritech and AT&T.

The men then provided the lines to long-distance providers, which avoided paying fees to Ameritech and AT&T, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said the scam defrauded Ameritech and AT&T out of more than $5 million.

The U.S. attorney's office said the four men may have been involved in similar scams in Tampa, FL, and Charlotte, NC, since 1997 and estimated that the total losses may run into the tens of millions of dollars.

The four men indicted were Lacy Ward, 50, Danny Hodges, 40, and Shane Gregg, 32, all of Kilgore, TX, and Robert Seale, 50, of Victoria, TX.


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