Telecommunications giant Verizon has agreed to pay roughly $1.3 million to resolve allegations that the company overcharged the state of Massachusetts for telecommunications services provided under the terms of a state contract. The settlement, which was announced today, requires Verizon New England (Verizon) to pay the state of Massachusetts as well as other Commonwealth cities and towns that were impacted by the overbilling allegations.
Verizon was under contract to provide the state with telephone services at agreed-to rates. According to a press release issued today by the Attorney General of Massachusetts Martha Coakley, Verizon allegedly submitted bills to state customers at higher rates than were allowed under the terms of the state contract. The overbilling allegedly occurred between September 2006 and October 2012 for local telephone calls, regional toll service, flat rate business lines, flat rate trunks and business listings, according to the press release.
The settlement is the culmination of a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, along with the Inspector General, investigated the whistleblower allegations, and the Attorney General’s office eventually intervened and litigated the case. The relator in the case, who has not been identified, will likely receive a share of the settlement amount. The whistleblower reward will depend on how integral the relator’s information was to the case. Typically, relator’s receive between 15 and 25 percent of any recovery.