An accusation of wide spread CenturyLink fraud practices has both CenturyLink and merger partner Level 3 shares down sharply. A former CenturyLink employee claims she was fired for blowing the whistle on the alleged CenturyLink fraud scheme and is suing the company.
According to a Bloomberg report, a former CenturyLink sales agent Heidi Heiser, accuses the company of fraudulently signing up customers for services they did not authorize. Heiser compares the practice to a recent Wells Fargo banking scheme that tainted the banker and had them face significant civil penalties and fire over 5,000 employees.
According to the Bloomberg report, Heiser claims to have been fired as a result of bringing the alleged practice to the attention of CenturyLink CEO Glenn Post.
When and if customers complained about the unauthorized charges on their bill, Heiser alleges agents were instructed to inform them that the CenturyLink billing system shows the services and subsequent additional charges as being approved and authorized by the customer.
This type of practice could be confused with ‘cramming,’ a widely used illegal practice where typically third party firms add unauthorized charges to a customer’s bill. But in this case, the actual carrier’s employees are alleged to have fraudulently added lines or other services to customer’s bills, inflating the revenue numbers for the carrier.
At the time of publishing this post, CenturyLink stock (NYSE: CTL) was down 4.45% to $25.72 and Level 3 stock (NYSE: LVLT) was down 2.8% to $62.