Steven Sann is a healthy man who
wants to inspire America's youth.
Steven Sann and his family live in Montana, where the fresh air and wide open spaces are more enjoyable when you have lots of money.
Mr. Sann, his wife Terry, his son Nathan and his accountant Robert Braach figured out a way to keep lots of money flowing their way.
They discovered the joys of cramming, the practice of placing fake charges on a customer's phone bill.
First, the Sann enterprise obtained lists of phone numbers, which they said they got from customers who filled out online forms.
They sent this customer information to companies called billing aggregators, who then placed the charges on customer phone bills from phone companies such as Verizon, AT&T, and Frontier.
The charge, typically $14.95, appeared every month on a customer's bill.
Many customers didn't notice the extra charge, and dutifully paid their bills every single month.
These charges were for services such as voice mail and electronic faxes.
But what if a customer did notice the charge? Did the Sanns quickly remove the charge so the customer wouldn't get more suspicious?
No, they merely changed the company name under which the charge was billed, which was easy, since they owned nine different companies:
American eVoice, Emerica Media Corp., FoneRight, Global Voice Mail, HearYou2, Network Assurance, SecuratDat, Techmax Solutions and Voice Mail Professionals.Some of the money they collected went to a charitable religious organization they founded called Bibliologic, which has no members and is located at no physical address.
Bibliologic did, however, give money to Mr. Sanns so he could pay his legal fees due to a federal medical marijuana dispensary case, and to buy 94 acres to set up a youth organization called Salmon Lake Youth Camp.
But maybe the Sanns are being falsely accused? Maybe they were just cursed with a high number of disgruntled customers who actually used their services but didn't want to pay their bills. How many customers actually used the accounts that the Sanns were billing them for?
As of April 2012, the Sanns had 119,810 customers who were billed for voice mail accounts.
The number of customers who accessed those accounts?
The Sanns have had to return $40 million after disgruntled customers challenged the charges.
Since 2008, the Sanns are accused of billing customers $70 million.
Some accounts are still being billed every month.
In a statement on his web site for Salmon Lake Youth Camp, this is what Steve Sann says about himself:
As Founder and Executive Director of the Salmon Lake Youth Camp, Steve Sann is building the premier youth outdoor leadership camp in the county. At 19 Steve Sann began his career working with young people, spending the next 12 years as a full-time college campus outreach minister. Some twenty plus years later and after founding several successful businesses, Steve finally has time to return to work with youth in Missoula and Western Montana. It’s been a challenge these many years, but this experience has done nothing but instill his vision of inspiring America’s youth to become great leaders.- Montana family accused of placing $70M in bogus charges on phone bills, Missoulian>>
- FTC Asks Court to Shut Down $70 Million Cramming Operation, FTC>>
- Mystery Charges on Your Phone Bill, FTC>>
- Steve Sann Missoula>>