Started by Bush, Perfected by Obama: A Massive Cell-Phone Scam

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Seems like every crappy government program or action started by George W. Bush and the GOP majorities of the early 2000’s was picked up by Obama, Reid and Pelosi and BLOWN OUT OF THIS WORLD.

h/t: CBS 4 
A federally regulated program providing free cellphone service and phones to the poor and needy in Denver appears to be riddled with waste, fraud and abuse, according to an undercover CBS4 Investigation.

The $2 billion a year Lifeline program has handed out more than 13 million free cellphone plans across the country in the first six months of this year. In Colorado, the program handed out more than 117,000 free cellphone plans in the first half of this year, or about 20,000 cellphones every month.

The free phones and their wireless plans are paid for by a monthly tax on your cellphone, called the Universal Service Tax. Although the Lifeline wireless program has been around since 2005 and started under president George W. Bush, it has exploded under President Obama’s administration and the phones are often referred to as “Obamaphones.”

The program has strict guidelines. To qualify, you have to be on food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance or some other government program to prove that you are low-income. The idea is that people who could not otherwise afford mobile phones would have them to help look for jobs, call 911 in an emergency or stay in touch with family members.

But on multiple trips to Colfax Avenue and Broadway in Denver, where multiple distributors set up their tents to hand out free cellphones, a CBS4 producer and reporter found the phone agents willing to circumvent strict government rules designed to ensure that only the truly needy get the free phones. The vendors receive massive government subsidies to hand out the phones and the accompanying monthly plans.

“Want to sign up for a free phone?” an agent representing Total Call mobile asked a CBS4 producer. The representative then asked if the undercover producer had a food stamp card, a Medicaid card or any other evidence that he qualified for a phone.

“No,” replied the CBS4 employee. But one of the cellphone agents then ordered his colleague to “push it through,” by using someone else’s food stamp card to provide eligibility for the CBS4 employee.

“Did you just use that guy’s food stamp card for me?” questioned the CBS4 employee.
“Yeah,” responded the Total Call representative. “It’s verification that you are on some kind of assistance program. It’s to get you through.”

He promptly gave the CBS4 worker a free phone. The Total Call agent said he received $3 for every phone he is able to give away.

Mark Wigfield, Deputy Director of media relations for the FCC, which oversees the Lifeline program, said using someone else’s food stamp card to get a phone is a clear violation of program guidelines.

“Lifeline providers may not activate service for a consumer unless that consumer is eligible for the program and provides proof of eligibility. Lifeline rules,” said Wigfield, “are enforceable rules and punishable by fines and other means.”

But over and over, wireless phone company representatives proved eager to bypass federal rules so they could hand out phones.

Approached by a CBS4 reporter and producer, a representative of another cellphone company said it would be fine to use another person’s food stamp card to establish eligibility. She said it would be acceptable to pass off someone else’s food stamp card. . .

Read the rest:  http://denver.cbslocal.com/2014/11/06/governments-free-phone-program-riddled-with-abuse-fraud/

The Republicans thought they knew how to waste money until Obama came along and showed them how it’s done.

 

 

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