News Show Highlights Scam Dogging Glass Industry

The problem of thieves using IT Relay programs designed for the deaf to steal millions of dollars was highlighted today on NBC's TODAY show. A report by correspondent Lisa Meyers detailed the scam that is plaguing thousands of businesses in the country, including the glass industry.

The report detailed the way IT Relay works. The user, who is usually deaf, goes to a free website and types in the phone number they wish to call and the message they wish to relay. An operator then calls the number and reads the message. Any reply messages are typed by the operator and sent back to the user.

But, a majority of the 22 million calls being made annually are being made by thieves who can dial in from overseas at no charge secure in the knowledge that their voice will never be heard and their calls are untraceable. The scammers-most often from Nigeria-- order items using stolen credit cards and, Meyers estimates, bilk U.S. businesses out of billions each year.

What's worse, according to Meyers, is that the Relay system is funded by taxpayers through a utility tax paid by telephone users to fund the system. $92.5 million in such taxes were collected last year. The law does not allow any records of the calls being made through IT Relay to be kept, nor does it allow operators to comment on the content of what they are relaying. Operators who work the Relay say the vast majority of calls are from thieves. "I feel like I helped steal millions of dollars, and there was nothing I could do about it," said one operator.

To see the video of the report, click here then go to "Scammers Abusing Program for the Deaf"


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