The big news of the week in the world relay services is the US FCC has targeted Video Relay Services in a national fraud case:
Twenty-six employees of seven companies that provide translation services to the deaf and hearing impaired have been charged in a nationwide scheme to defraud the government of millions of dollars, the Justice Department announced today.
Indictments against owners and employees of the companies, including businesses in Maryland, Texas, California and New Jersey, were unsealed today. Prosecutors say the defendants were part of a scheme in which fraudulent video relay service (VRS) bills were submitted to the Federal Communications Commission for reimbursement.
VRS providers help deaf and hearing impaired individuals to communicate with others through the use of Web cameras and interpreters. The service, which is free for the user, is funded by fees assessed on telephone customers. In 2008, the FCC paid $540 million to VRS providers. An hour-long call is billed at nearly $400. FCC officials said billing irregularities prompted the investigation.