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Marketers Swiped $10 Million, Idearc Says

DALLAS (CN) - Idearc split off from Verizon as a separate, phone-book company, and hired Encore Marketing Group to sell ads on its Internet phone book, SuperPages.com. Encore wasted no time in defrauding it of $10 million by billing for 1,000 bogus accounts, even recruiting people to pose as customers to leave phony voice mail messages, Idearc says in a RICO claim in Federal Court.

Idearc claims that "certain of Encore's employees engineered and implemented a campaign and conspiracy to defraud Idearc out of millions of dollars. More specifically, they brazenly reported fake 'sales' with fake 'customers' so as to, by theft, obtain lucrative unearned commission. Encore sales representatives went to far as to: recruit third parties to pose as actual customers ordering advertising services; disguise their voices as supposed customers; and create fake voice mail messages for their made-up business. Encore admitted to the fraud as it was expanding in scope and geography, and its executives agreed to take action. But those assurances went unmet, and the vast scheme of theft permeated the company."

Attached to the lawsuit are citations of roughly 1,000 phony customers, and allegedly phony bills totaling $10 million, in increasingly brazen amounts, beginning with $134,708.40 on Nov. 1, 2006, mounting to $1,807,655.30 on April 2, 2007.

Encore is based in Hillsborough, N.C. Idearc also sued Encore CEO Craig Stapel of Hillsborough, N.C.; COO Robert Weinroth of Boca Raton, Fla.; vice president Angelo Narvaez of Corona, Calif.; and employees Radrian Austin of Boca Raton; Owen Thunderburg and Sam Holscomb, both of Georgia.

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