T-Mobile made hundreds of millions of dollars by placing unwanted charges on customers' monthly phone bills, according to federal charges filed Tuesday.
The phone company billed customers for flirting tips, horoscope information, celebrity gossip, and other services that they never asked for, the Federal Trade Commission says.
T-Mobile placed the charges on behalf of third-party scammers, but took a cut of 35-40 percent of the charges, according to the lawsuit. The services often cost $9.99 per month.
In the complaint, the FTC claims T-Mobile continued to bill many customers even after becoming aware the services were scams.
"It's wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent," FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement.
The FTC will ask the court to force T-Mobile to provide refunds for the hundreds of millions of dollars in bogus charges, but the agency lacks the authority to impose additional fines. The Federal Communications Commission, which has fining power, has launched its own investigation into T-Mobile's practices.
Jessica Rich, the director of the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau, said the agency negotiated with T-Mobile before filing the lawsuit but was unable to reach a settlement.