FCC Kept ‘Obamaphone’ Fraud Under Wraps Until After Program Expansion
Commissioners were instructed not to reveal $5 million fine until the day after controversial Lifeline expansion vote.
FCC Commissioner Said He Was Told To Hush Fraud Report Until After Vote
According to Fox News, Federal regulators were instructed to keep a massive fraud investigation concerning the “Obamaphone” program, meant to help get low-income families cellphones, under wraps until a day after a controversial vote to expand the program.
The Federal Communications Commission has announced that it will seek $51 million in damages from the Total Call cellphone company for defrauding the federal Lifeline program of nearly $10 million.
According to Republican commissioner Ajit Pai, he and other commissioners were told not to reveal the details of its investigation until April 1, one day after the FCC voted to expand the Lifeline program.
“Commissioners were told that the Notice of Apparent Liability could not be released or publicly discussed until April 1, 2016, conveniently one day after the Commission was scheduled to expand the Lifeline program to broadband,” Pai wrote. “That’s not right.”
FCC spokesman Will Wiquist claims that the timing was coincidental. “The timing of the enforcement action was in no way related to the timing of the vote on the program modernization.”
The Free Beacon reported that a common means of fraudulent enrollment was the repeated use of a single SNAP identification card. That drew the ire of Commissioner Michael O’Reilly, who said “the use of SNAP cards as Lifeline verification mechanisms is woefully inadequate.”
“I must once again lodge my extreme frustration that the Commission continues to rely on SNAP as an entry point in the Lifeline program, and has the gall to claim that it is a highly accountable program, when it is painfully obvious to anyone paying attention that SNAP is riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse,” he wrote regarding the Total Call case.
In response to accusations of fraudulent use and inadequate enrollment checks, investigative reporter Jillian Kay Melchior went on the street to see how much truth there is to the ‘Free Phones’ she had heard about. Before long she had three Obamaphones sent to her home, at our expense.
Vendors on the street walked up to her and asked, “Do You Have A Free Phone Yet?” She answered their questions truthfully and the phones started arriving.
According to Melchior the number of Obamaphones has mushroomed until there are currently 13.4 million Obamaphones in use costing paying US cell phones users roughly $2.1 billion per year. Audit reports show that 41% of the free phone recipients are still unverified and may be fraudulent.
Are you paying their bill? If you are paying for your cellphone yourself the answer is likely to be, yes. Check your bill for a line item called ‘Universal Service Fund.’ It’s probably about $2.50 per month and you are probably helping to pay for the 13.4 million ‘Free’ Obamaphones, and the $51 million fraud.
VIDEO: The Secret Behind Me And My ‘Obamaphones’
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sources: The Washington Free Beacon, Fox News, Youtube