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Deceased Malayan hit with $218 trillion mobile bill

Roaming in the valley of the shadow of death

Website security in corporate America

What otherworldly ectoplasms lurk in the oblivion of such an unholy place as accounts receivable?

A Malaysian man who paid off a $23 wireless bill and disconnected his late father's cell phone back in January has been stiffed for subsequent charges on the closed account, MSNBC has reported. Telekom Malaysia sent Yahaya Wahab a bill for 806,400,000,000,000.01 ringgit, or about $218 trillion, for charges to the account, along with a demand from the company's debt collection agency that he settle the alleged debt within 10 days, or get a lawyer.

Bring it on, bean counters. Funereal topcoats, ghostly visages and all.

"If the company wants to seek legal action as mentioned in the letter, I'm ready to face it," Yahaya claimed. "In fact, I can't wait to face it."

No one apparently at Telekom Malaysia is quite sure whether the bill was a mistake, or, cryptically, if Yahaya's father's phone line was used illegally after his death. This correspondent not long ago got his sh*t pushed in by Verizon for $117 in roaming charges during a week-long conference in Montreal, but even at Verizon's ultimate 'screw you' rate of $4.99 per roaming minute, yours truly would have to clock 43.7 trillion pure, hardcore roaming minutes to ring up $218 trillion in charges, or roughly 727 billion Verizon-hours of internet surfing and chit-chat. The $218 trillion total is roughly 17 times the GDP of the United States.

Yahaya, from northern Kedah state, said he nearly fainted when he saw the new bill, and here at El Reg we're curious what supernatural force allowed the grim reapers inhabiting the nether regions of collections and legal to avoid a similar state of semi-conscious disbelief.

The recent discovery of previously unknown life forms in the hinterlands of deepest Africa lends hope that science may yet elucidate the inscrutable nature of the number-crunchers. Of course, Montreal is not exactly on the banks of the river Styx, but if a math-challenged gringo can extrapolate from that mobile billing clusterf*ck, the bean counters at Telekom Malaysia surely can do better.®

Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office

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