NBC 5 Responds Helps Recover $1,300 in Fraudulent Charges on Stolen Phone

A wireless carrier wouldn’t wipe out $1,300 in fraudulent phone charges from a 13-year-old Bloomingdale girl’s stolen flip phone, until NBC 5 Responds stepped in

There’s nothing unusual about a teenager losing a cell phone, until that lost phone racks up $1,300 in international calls.

That’s exactly what happened to 13-year-old Isabela Arias. The Bloomingdale teen lost her flip phone in December, the day before she and her family left for a Florida vacation. While they were gone, someone found the phone and started dialing, over and over again. A whopping 146 calls were made to the Dominican Republic over eight days, leaving the family with a $1,300 bill.

"I just thought it was crazy,” Isabela’s mom Melissa Didrickson said. “I thought I was misreading it, the decimal point was off."

Turns out, it wasn’t. The family’s bill is normally $250. When it shot up to $1,500 they called Verizon, certain the wireless carrier would wipe out the fraudulent charges.

“I’m a good customer,” Isabela’s dad Mark Tarullo recalled. “I’ve been with you for 10 years. I’ve actually never made a long distance call in my entire life, especially on this phone.”

Still, he said, Verizon wouldn’t budge.

"I dealt with the fraud team, the billing team, the global team, the customer service team, and nothing,” Tarullo said.

When he hit a brick wall, he called NBC 5 Responds for help. We called Verizon and got the fraudulent charges wiped out.

In a statement, Verizon told NBC 5 Responds it strives to deliver the best customer service and did not do so in this case. The company apologized, and reminded all consumers that any phone that is active can dial internationally, and should be reported lost as soon as possible.

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