8/01/2013

Massive Obamaphone fraud continues

Here is one reporter for National Review who received three different Obamaphones, essentially tripling the telephone time that she receives free from taxpayers
Confession: You’re paying my phone bill. 
In the past month, I have received three shiny new cell phones, courtesy of American taxpayers, that should never have fallen into my hands. 
The Federal Communications Commission oversees the so-called Lifeline program, created in 1984 to make sure impoverished Americans had telephone service available to call their moms, bosses, and 911. In 2008, the FCC expanded the program to offer subsidized cell-phone service, and since then, the expenses of running the program have soared. In 2012, the program’s costs had risen to $2.189 billion, up from $822 million before wireless carriers were included. As of June, there were 13.8 million active Lifeline subscriptions. . . .
Here is a story from MSN Money:
The so-called Obamaphone project has a noble goal to help low-income Americans pay for mobile phones, allowing them to have contact numbers for job interviews or to access emergency services.  
But now conservative activist James O'Keefe is alleging that the program is prone to fraud. Undercover cameras taped salespeople telling applicants for phones under the Federal Communications Commissions' Lifeline program that once they get a device, they can do whatever they want with it, including selling it.  
One employee at a Stand Up wireless location in Philadelphia looked the other way when an undercover actor said he was going to sell the phone for heroin. "Hey, I don't judge," the employee said.  
At another location, a saleswoman in an outdoor tent operated by Stand Up Wireless told an actor to take the phone to a pawn shop to find out its worth. One undercover actress told a salesperson at a TerraCom store that she wants to sell the phone to buy an "awesome pair of shoes." . . . 
Up until recently those applying for the plan weren't even asked to show that they were eligible.  From the WSJ:
Until last year, FCC rules didn't require carriers to certify to the FCC that subscribers were eligible. Consumers could self-certify, and in many states documentation wasn't required. 
Carriers said many of the disqualified subscribers simply didn't reply when asked to prove their eligibility. They also said the FCC rules on self-certification, and the absence of a national database of participants, made it hard to keep ineligible people from signing up. 
The FCC said it is investigating allegations that some Lifeline providers violated the rules, though it declined to comment on that probe. Carriers that don't properly confirm eligibility can be fined up to $150,000 for each violation for each day of a continuing violation, up to a maximum of $1.5 million. In egregious cases, a carrier could lose its ability to participate in the program. . . . 

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