The wiretapping business can be quite expensive for the U.S. Government, and a lucrative deal for carriers that have to comply to court-ordered surveillance operations and help government spy agencies gather information through wiretaps on selected targets. But it turns out the government is not happy with one particular carrier, which has allegedly overcharged for wiretaps, CNET reports. According to a complaint filed against Sprint in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Monday, the carrier got $21 million in wiretaps payments more than it should have from agencies including the FBI and the DEA.
“Sprint inflated its charges by approximately 58 percent,” the complaint reads. “As a result of Sprint’s false claims, the United States paid over $21 million in unallowable costs from January 1, 2007 to July 31, 2010.” The government wants triple damages and unspecified civil fines, the publication notes.
Meanwhile, Sprint says that it operated within the law. “Under the law, the government is required to reimburse Sprint for its reasonable costs incurred when assisting law enforcement agencies with electronic surveillance,” Sprint spokesman John B. Taylor said. “The invoices Sprint has submitted to the government fully comply with the law.”
It’s not clear what fees the government had to pay for spying on designated targets during the period with the help of Sprint, or how much it’s paying for other spying endeavors that don’t necessarily require the help of mobile operators.