Target 12

Verizon: $156K bill to RIC not fraud

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The wireless service provider that billed Rhode Island College $156,000 for out-of-country data usage on a school vice president's state-issued iPad said Tuesday there is no evidence of fraud in connection with the exorbitant tab.

According to RIC, the iPad was issued to Associate Vice President of Community, Equity and Diversity Anna Cano Morales, who was authorized to use the device for work-related duties while she was out of the country over the summer.

Cano Morales, who told Target 12 she was vacationing in Colombia in July when the data was used, said she has "no idea" what happened.

"I didn't suspect anything. No one else has my password except maybe the (RIC) IT guys," she said. "Technology is great, but it comes with a risk."

Verizon North East Market Public Relations Manager David Weissmann said the company continues to work with the college "toward a resolution" for a sudden, costly spike in data usage, but... 

"We have no reason to believe that any fraud occurred," Weismann said. "To protect customer privacy we don't speak about the specifics of an individual customer."

Weismann did share "general information," saying a customer would usually "receive an automated alert letting them know about the overage and their options for changing the plan prior to the billing cycle closing."                 

RIC Associate Director of Communications Kristy dosReis said "to the best of our current knowledge, RIC received no timely notice of unusually large data usage." 

Weismann would not comment when asked about RIC's claim the college was not notified when the bill began to soar.

dosReis did say, "Once notice was received, the College immediately took action and suspended the device."

According to dosReis, after RIC IT personnel reviewed "the volume, location and data usage history, it is clear that the iPad’s hot spot was compromised."

dosReis added the college "is taking action to dispute the charge and to initiate and assist any law enforcement action."

"We are actively working with Verizon at this time and are hopeful that the disputed charges will be removed," dosReis said. 

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.


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