Bryan Cohen Sep. 3, 2013, 7:11pm

CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit Friday against a Delaware telecommunications company that allegedly scammed Illinoisans by billing them for long-distance service they never authorized.

Optic Internet Protocol and Gregory Allpow, the company's president, allegedly billed Illinois residents after falsifying their authorization for costly long-distance services. Optic Internet Protocol allegedly targeted Spanish speakers or consumers of Hispanic descent. Madigan's office received 17 consumer complaints from Illinoisans who learned of the charges after receiving their latest monthly phone bill with a new long-distance carrier.

"Scammers are betting that phone customers won't read their bills," Madigan said. "That's why it's critical that you carefully review your monthly phone bill to avoid falling victim to slamming schemes."

Federal and state law requires companies to obtain authorization from a consumer prior to making a change in service and to verify the authorization of the switch. Madigan alleges Optic Internet Protocol made fraudulent audio recordings that appeared to record a consumer's consent over the phone for the switch. The lawsuit alleges the voice on the recording was not always the consumer's and the name on the recording did not always match the consumer's name.

Madigan's lawsuit requests that the court pay restitution to consumers targeted by the scam and ban the defendants from operating in the Illinois telecommunications industry. The suit also seeks civil penalties based on alleged violations of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Businesses Practices Act, including alleged violations against seniors aged 65 or older.

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