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Con artist sent down for scamming US ISPs, telcos

The penalty: 30 years in chokey and $1.5 million fine

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A California con artist has pleaded guilty to cheating ISPs and telephone companies out of $9 million in a toll-free number scam. Fraudster Gregory Evans operated ICB Telecommunications, also known as Connect America, and signed up for 125 toll-free '800' numbers. Net service providers bought the lines, but were left facing angry customers when numbers were shut off in the first month. Evans admitted he never paid AT&T and MCI for the lines, and the phone companies have been left footing most of the bill for the caper. Evans, 33, last Monday pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy, wire fraud, and using false names and addresses for the scheme from November 1996 to June 1997. He will be sentenced with a fine of $1.5 million -- under US law he has to pay the victims in full -- and a maximum of 30 years in prison. Angela Davis, the assistant US lawyer for the prosecution, said: "He has a whole life ahead of him, if he doesn't have the money right now this obligation stays with him for life." The case follows last year's Moldeva sex site scam, where 38,000 smut-seeking customers were awarded more than $2.74 million compensation for dial-up calls to a porn site that were re-routed through the former Soviet Union republic to allow the site's administrator to collect international call tarriffs. ®

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