Scammer "crams" $35 million in false phone charges -- from prison

FTC had settled $34.5 million case against scammer

The US Department of Justice said a man who placed $35 million worth of false telephone bill charges while serving jail time has been sentenced to 21 more years for the cramming scam.

The DoJ said  Willoughby Farr of West Palm Beach, Fla., has been sentenced to 262 months in prison and three years of supervised release for a cramming scheme he ran from April 2003 to December 2005, using three West Palm Beach companies - Nationwide Connections Inc., Access One Communications Inc., and Connect One Communications Inc. - to defraud consumers.   Through these companies, Farr arranged for telephone companies to falsely bill consumers for approximately $35 million in collect calls.   Because the charges typically appeared on the last page of consumers' telephone bills, many paid the charges.

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According to the DoJ, Farr pleaded guilty in May 2010 to two counts of mail fraud related to the scheme.   In pleading guilty, Farr admitted that he committed the crimes while he was incarcerated in the West Palm Beach County Jail.   He also hid his ownership of the three firms.   He also hid his ownership because other firms had cut off his ability to bill for calls due to consumer complaints and the fact that state regulators had sued him for illegitimate billing, the DoJ stated. 

According to an article on a West Palm Beach news site,  Farr  had been serving time for driving offenses, managed to run his operation for more than two years from a jail pay phone, and with the help of a few employees - and his mother - on the outside. From prison he managed to buy expensive sports cars he never drove and a $6 million mansion he lavishly furnished but could only fantasize about living in.

In February 2006, the Federal Trade Commission brought a cramming suit against several firms and individuals, including Farr. That suit resulted in a $34,547,140 civil judgment against Farr.

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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