'American Idol' Producers Claim Scam

Producers of the Fox television show “American Idol” have sued a Salt Lake City-based telemarketing firm, claiming the company ripped off viewers who tried to call in to vote for their favorite contestant.

According to the lawsuit filed by FremantleMedia North America and 19 TV Ltd., Telemarketing Inc. set up toll-free call-in lines to fool viewers into calling a 900 toll number.

Every Tuesday, “American Idol” fans can vote for their favorite contestant by dialing a toll-free 866 number. According to the suit, Telemarketing Inc. set up a hotline with the same telephone number, except with an 800 prefix instead of 866.

Those who called the 800 number received instructions to call a 900 toll number, the show producers charged. The calls cost consumers 99 cents to $1.99, according to the suit.

Telemarketing Inc. made about $250,000 in this fashion, according to the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

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