US Accuses Sprint Of Fraudulently Overcharging Millions For Surveillance Requests

The United States is seeking millions from Sprint for allegedly overcharging authorities for the compensation normally paid for assistance with controversial surveillance programs.

Sprint inflated its charges by approximately 58%, according to court documents.

“As a result of Sprint’s false claims, the United States paid over $21 million in unallowable costs from January 1, 2007 to July 31, 2010,” reads the official court document [PDF].

The United States Congress allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to phone and Internet spying programs, part of which went to reimbursing telecommunications companies for the labor and time associated with filling requests.

“We have fully cooperated with this investigation and intend to defend this matter vigorously,” said Sprint spokesman John Taylor, as reported by Reuters.

“Because Sprint’s invoices for intercept charges did not identify the particular expenses for which it sought reimbursement, federal law enforcement agencies were unable to detect that Sprint was requesting reimbursement of these unallowable costs,” reads the document. In other words, agencies couldn’t find some of the expenses Sprint was charging them for.

Depending on how Congress’s surveillance reforms pan out, the relationship with telecommunications companies could get more complicated. One proposal from President Obama’s own surveillance task force would be for telecom companies to keep bulk data currently held by spy agencies. Congress is expected to take up these reforms this year.

You can read the full court document here [PDF].

[Image Credit: Flickr User steakpinball]