Most of us wince at our cable bills each month, but what would you do if someone from the cable company approached you and said they could permanently lower your bill — if you gave them a one-time payment of $150?
Authorities in Pennsylvania have arrested five men and issued warrants for more than a dozen others, alleging they were all involved in a scheme to enrich themselves by accepting payments from Comcast customers in exchange for lower rates on their cable bills.
In total, at least 5,795 Comcast subscribers paid $150 each to the schemers, which shorted the Comcast coffers by around $2.4 million between April 2011 and April 2012.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, those involved in the scheme would approach Comcast customers — which in the Philadelphia area means just about anyone — and offer to reduce their bill if they paid $150.
Once the payment was made, at least one Comcast employee would change the customer’s plan through a computer that had secretly been installed at a Comcast subcontractor’s office in, well… my home town in suburban Montgomery County, PA.
But what the clever fellows forgot about Philadelphia is that you also can’t toss a rock in this region without hitting someone who works for Comcast.
So when they unwittingly made the perma-discount offer to a Kabletown employee, it set the ball rolling that ended in yesterday’s arrests.
“She was asked if she’d like to have a discount to her bill in exchange for a payment,” said the prosecutor. “This was reported by the employee to Comcast security.”
As for the those Comcast customers who paid for the insider deal, the cable company says it is putting them back into non-discounted plans, but currently doesn’t think it will chase them down for back payments.
It’s possible this scheme is just the tip of the iceberg, as one of the men arrested appears to have been involved in an earlier ruse that reportedly netted him more than $200,000.