NBC10 Philadelphia - Deanna Durante
Former Comcast employee Alston Buchanan allegedly sent people out to solicit Comcast customers for cash with the promise of lowering their rates. Police believe they accessed 5700 customer accounts in all, resulting in a $2.4 million loss for Comcast. NBC10's Deanna Durante spoke to Buchanan about the operation.
A former Comcast employee who likens himself to Robin Hood surrendered to police after investigators say he was busted in an elaborate scheme that cost the company millions.
Alston Buchanan, 28, along with 21 other accomplices, allegedly sent people out to solicit Comcast customers for cash with the promise of lowering their rates. Police say the group charged customers between $100 and $200 to adjust their cable bills with some receiving cheaper rates while others were given extra services. Police also say Buchanan applied promo codes to the customer accounts in order to lower the bills. Police believe they accessed 5700 customer accounts in all, resulting in a $2.4 million loss for Comcast.
Buchanan allegedly accessed the accounts through an illegal computer hookup. The computer was stashed in the closet of a Comcast subcontractor, according to police. Prosecutors say Buchanan had inside knowledge of Comcast discount programs and the computer network because he once worked for Comcast and the subcontractor.
Buchanan along with four others turned themselves in Tuesday morning. Buchanan also spoke to NBC10.
“I guess you could say it’s a modern day Robin Hood type thing,” said Buchanan. “But like I said it goes higher than me. Granted, technically it is stealing but in the grand scheme of things, the way things are going, people are just paying cable a little less money. Comcast is still getting paid regardless but yes, they are not getting paid what they should be paid.”
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman begs to differ however.
“When you steal from somebody else you are nothing but a common thief,” said Ferman.
“I can’t say I didn’t have a part in it because obviously I’m here,” said Buchanan. “But when it comes out everybody will know more about the case and how it goes from top to bottom. But I am definitely not the top. It goes higher. In the past I did make money. But as of just know I got some reaping for what I sowed. In the past I had a little piece of it but as of now, no.”
Buchanan along with the four other men who turned themselves in were released without posting bail. Police say they are in the process of arresting 17 other people who played a role in the scheme. Comcast tells NBC10 they will work with affected customers to get them back on appropriate plans.
Comcast is the parent company of NBC10.