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VT Fairpoint President Mike Smith Honored For Anti-Fraud Efforts

CONTACT: Mary-Kay Swanson, , (802) 828-3173

June 11, 2013

Mike Smith, Vermont President of FairPoint Communications, was honored today by Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell for his significant efforts to educate Vermonters about telephone scams and to protect them from wire-transfer fraud. In recognition of his work, Smith was presented with the Attorney General’s Pure Vermont Award.

For the past few years, Smith has partnered with law enforcement and advocacy organizations in Vermont and New England to raise awareness about telephone scams originating from the Jamaican “876” area code. These calls frequently target seniors, promising free lottery or sweepstakes winnings after the payment of a fee. The consumer is then directed to send the fee via a wire transfer.

In November 2012, Smith traveled to Jamaica and met with Jamaican authorities to request greater enforcement efforts. To provide consumers with a central location to learn about the issue, FairPoint established a website: Beware: Scams from Area Code 876. Smith also visited Washington, D.C. to press for improved resources and legislation to address the problem at the federal level with some success. In May of this year, Bill Sorrell testified at a hearing before a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce that was convened to review the federal government’s current efforts to detect financial scams perpetrated on seniors and how to assess the effectiveness of those measures. “Mike Smith saw that these scams were hurting Vermonters, particularly seniors, and stepped up to work towards solving the problem,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “He brought law enforcement and advocacy agencies together and these efforts have led to greater awareness and to prevention. On behalf of my Office, Vermont seniors and other affected consumers, I extend my thanks for his significant efforts.”

“I am so honored and privileged to receive this award,” said Smith.

“I want to thank the attorney general for this honor and for his laser focus and efforts in protecting our seniors,” Smith said. “The Vermont AG’s office is, without a doubt, a national leader in this effort and instrumental to our outreach program. In addition, the education program would not be successful without the assistance of local law enforcement, seniors groups, particularly the AARP, and the FairPoint employees who have dedicated themselves to stopping this scam. Representative Peter Welch of Vermont also needs to be applauded for his efforts in making sure Congress knows about this problem.”

The Attorney General’s Pure Vermont Award Program recognizes those individuals, businesses, and organizations that exemplify the best Vermont traditions of caring for our communities, helping our neighbors, and fair dealing in the marketplace.

The remarkable true story by Carol Mannarino regarding how scammers were able to get her lonely, elderly father to send $20,000 for “sweepstakes winnings.”

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.