Phone Fraud in Governor's House
Though his aides insist
was mostly a case
"kids beingkids." Governor Thornburgh's state telephone credit card wasused for hundreds
personal calls. some
them made bymembers
the governor's family.The personal
to the beginning
in billssubmitted to the state. They were routinely processed and paid
was only recently. when word
inquiries from areporter filtered back to Thornburgh's press office. that areview was done on the phone bills.The review showed that about $4.330 worth
personallong-distance phone calls had been made
year periodending in.October
those calls had been made using
telephone credit-card number
governor.A spokesman said that Thornburgh personally reimbursedthe state for $1.751.98 worth
calls made bv members
hisfamily. He said the state also had been
by a privatecitizen. whom he would not name. for an additional $2.582.52
personal long-distancee calls that had been made
teenager" using the governor's card number.
Watching VDT Operators
8.6 million video display terminal operators are beingmonitored by their computers. according to the NationalInstitute
Occupational Safety and Health.
insurance companies. airlines.
supermarkets, post offices. and telephone
using computers to record when an operator
off a VDT.
servicetransactio"ns. and track errors. They say workers do more whenthey know they're being watched."Yes. in the short term you can squeeze more out
people."says Harley Shaiken. technology professor
the long term.
destroyscreativity and the initiative and desire to
a good job."PSA Inc.
San Diego began
March to give demerits toreservation agents who don't meet certain standards. PSAagents are allowed to leave their terminals a total of72 minutesduring
8.5-hour shift. They can't spend more than
seconds per call and more than II seconds between calls. If theydo. they collect demerits:
a year could get them fired.Workers are fighting back in unusual ways. Some arehanging up on customers to reduce average call times. Othersfake work. holding a finger on a key and filling computerscreens with one letter.[Readers:
welcome any other suggestions for beating thishorrible. nasty system. These people need
Companies Strike Back
Victor and Betty Humphrey got a surprise package on their38th wedding anniversary last month: a $258,000 bill for longdistance phone calls they didn't make.GTE Sprint says the
24-pound bill resulted fromfraud. During a six-day dialing spree.
prisonsacross the country charged 46.000 calls to the Humphrey's codebefore the company cancelled and replaced the number.But while the Humphrey's are offthe hook. Sprint isn't. Theymust pay the costs
providing service. whether
not theythemselves get paid. Investigators say that illegitimate use
billing codes issued to customers
companies other than
estimated $500 million that the long distance industry lost totoll fraud last year.
The companies are fighting back. Among other steps. theyhave fitted their switching equipment with anti-fraud softwareand forged a
industry coalition to bolster prosecutionefforts. Some companies permit customers who are traveling toplace calls only to numbers
their home area codes.Many companies have joined the Communications FraudControl Association. a trade group formed last year to combattoll fraud. The companies complain. however. that they don'talways get the cooperation they expect from local lawenforcement agencies.In February. Teltec Saving Communications Co
a Miamibased long distance company. filed suit
state court against
people, including the operators
seven electronic bulletinboards. accusing them
either using fraudulently obtainedcodes
permitting them to be posted. Although the case hasn'tyet gone to trial. some defendants have settled out
court.agreeing as part
the settlement to post the word onunderground electronic networks that computer crime doesn'tpay.Teltec has put its own message
bulletin boards where
found its codes posted. offering up to $10.000 for informationon who was posting the codes.
has also posted phony codes.then traced people who used them.
Leave Our Poles Alone!
candidate Albio Sires recently carried out his planned "civildisobedience" by nailing a political poster to a utility pole."Those are
poles."said a spokesman for New Jersey
"The posters are a safety halard. We don't want them. We sayplease leave
Phone Booths Mauled Then Stolen
"Someone apparently used a chain attached
truck." saida New York Telephone spokesman when
referred to twophone booths that were stolen. Each
the missing boothsweighed 400 pounds. And each was secured
a six-inch bolt toa concrete slab outside Weir's Delicatessen
Medford.Town highway department workers reported the boothsmissing
4:50 am. Telephone company employees inspectedthe site and found only the bolts surrounded by pieces
broken glass as
as smashed panels and rubber molding.According to Weir's clerk the theft was the final indignitysuffered by the booths. "People would slam the phone down.break the receiver. take a hammer and bam."
said. "Thev'dget mad when they'd lose their money." "The New York Telephone spokesman said that publicphones get "bombed. bludgeoned and stuffed." But.
added."It's unusual to see a booth hauled off."New York Telephone
offering a $2.000 reward forinformation about the theft. The number to call
the missing payphones were 5167328600 and5167328550.
The Ghost in the Machine
operators have learned that when they get a call andhear no voice on the line. a cordless phone
fault.,A rogue phone's dialing system
by interference from household gadgets such asmicrowave ovens. fluorescent lights. hair dryers. and garage
openers. Three-digit numbers are hit most often
fordirectory assistance also gets such calls).
emergency operators. the problem
more than anuisance. Silent calls must
case a human ratherthan a phantom needs help.