One day before a potential government shutdown, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it was mailing 139,357 checks collectively worth $5.4 million to consumers and businesses “who were victimized by a massive fraudulent operation that placed unwanted charges on their telephone bills”—aka cramming—by a company called Inc21.

Ars has been covering the shady practice of cramming for five years. In this scheme, consumers are billed for services that they never asked for, likely ignored, and yet continue to be billed for. (Ars editor Nate Anderson even detailed his own experience with cramming.) It happens in the ISP industry, in the landline telephone industry, and increasingly in the mobile phone industry. Earlier this year, the FTC filed its first civil suit against Wise Media, LLC, a Georgia company accused of consistently engaging in the practice. In regard to Monday’s action, Inc21’s owners pled guilty back in December 2012 to related charges initially brought in 2010. Back then, Inc21 was accused of fraudulently raking in $19 million over five years through cramming.     

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