Welfare Fraud

Remember the Obamaphone program that gives undeserving poors the luxury of having their own prepaid cell phone so they can talk to each other while they drive to the store in their welfare Cadillacs to buy t-bones and flat screen TVs? Well, you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s full of cheaters:

The Federal Communications Commission yesterday accused five wireless service providers of obtaining duplicate payments from a federal fund for low-income consumers. The FCC wants the companies to repay the extra money and, in addition, to pay $14.4 million in fines.

The wireless providers allegedly violated rules of the Lifeline program, which has helped people afford basic telephone service since 1985. It was expanded to cover pre-paid cell phone service in 2005 under former President George W. Bush.

This wasn’t chump change, either: over three years, the FCC thinks it can reduce overcharging by $2 billion once the 1.1 million duplicates are removed from the program.

27 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    I bet the wireless companies were black.

  2. 2
    MattF says:

    @Baud: …Kenyan socialist Muslim gay atheist abortionists. Also.

  3. 3

    I think the fact that cellphone companies are defrauding the program just proves the original point that welfare queens are defrauding the program.

  4. 4
    Violet says:

    It’s not welfare fraud when a corporation does it. Then it’s just business following the rules and taking care of itself.

  5. 5
    Jay in Oregon says:

    Or, alternately, fighting off the oppressive yoke of overly-burdensome government regulation.

    Companies must be free to make money! Double- and triple-billing is a God-given right!

  6. 6
    PaulW says:

    Waitaminute! What’s the FCC doing performing actual regulatory duties during a GOP-induced shutdown of the government?! They’re gonna get investigated by Darrel Issa for this…!

  7. 7
    PaulW says:

    @Jay in Oregon:

    Companies must be free to make money! Double- and triple-billing is a God-given right!

    Yea verily, thou shalt double-bill your client even though that violates two no wait three of our Lord’s Commandments, because yea verily thou art God’s Chosen CEO and thou art worth it. – Book of Trump 3:14

  8. 8
    g says:

    @Baud: beat me to it, damn you!

  9. 9
    Violet says:

    @Jay in Oregon:

    Or, alternately, fighting off the oppressive yoke of overly-burdensome government regulation.

    Or focusing on their core business and the bottom line.

    I think I’m making myself sick with how well I know MBA-speak. That’s just wrong.

  10. 10
    Narcissus says:

    @Violet: Even the pro-corporate propaganda relies on their implicit sociopathy.

  11. 11
    Anya says:

    That’s nothing, I bet ten people attempted or defrauded the program by getting a second phone.

  12. 12
    morley bolero says:

    Won’t somebody think of the shareholders?

  13. 13
    Shrillhouse says:

    Yes, but I heard that one of the people who benefits from this program used their Obamaphone to get a quote for granite countertops, so..

    You know, both sides….

  14. 14
    aimai says:

    @Baud: Oh. Win. You.Internets.

  15. 15
    Tone in DC says:

    @morley bolero:

    Won’t somebody think of the shareholders?

    Good thing I haven’t had breakfast yet.
    Sadly, I can almost hear L. Blankfein or Jamie Dimon saying this about this FCC action.

  16. 16
    NotMax says:

    Obvious proof that the government program doesn’t work and Lifeline must be repealed.


  17. 17
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    When approached for comment, Maria Bartiromo replied “What’s wrong with that? They made a profit, didn’t they?”

  18. 18
    cvstoner says:

    I would be nice if they could fix overcharging for the rest of us, too.

  19. 19
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Tone in DC:

    Or all the 1% lickspittles of CNBC. In unison.

  20. 20
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    I would be nice if they could fix overcharging for the rest of us, too.

    How dare you criticize profit-making job creators? Filthy commie.

  21. 21
    Gus says:

    If I were to embezzle $20,000 from my company do you think I could get off the hook by paying a $144 fine?

  22. 22
    Tone in DC says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Bitter LULz.

    I can think of a better term (or two) to use for the guys on CNBC. They’re out and out hos, or simply go Oppenheimer and say sonsabitches.

  23. 23
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    Exploiting the poors: it’s the American way.

  24. 24
    Seanly says:


    Yeah, but you gotta pinky-swear not to do it again!

    Wouldn’t this also mean that we’ve all been paying too much for the “Fed Universal Service Charge” as Verizon calls it on my bill? I won’t hold my breath for a refund of the overcharge, but maybe they could lower it. Everybody stop laughing!

  25. 25
    tesslibrarian says:

    Relieved to see the primary provider in our area isn’t on the list. At the library, we had many people, primarily elderly with no computer skills, come to us for assistance signing up for the benefit. (and later, instructions for how to use their phones) You can use snail mail, but that takes much, much longer and many people had been living without a phone or using a neighbor’s phone only when necessary–pretty lonely, especially for those whose children had moved out of town. It requires annual renewal.

    It’s an online process, including submitting proof that you are on Medicaid, SNAP, and/or subsidized housing. Safelink was the primary provider in our area, and required uploading of scanned documents or other ID associated with benefits to qualify, which might be why they aren’t on the list of fraudsters in the story. They also provided phones that were krappy, sometimes falling apart, but still essentially functional. The very sweet old ladies I helped didn’t care–they just liked being able to call their grandkids on Sundays.

  26. 26
    Long Tooth says:

    Strange there was no mention of criminal charges having been contemplated in conjunction with the fine. I guess 5 separate companies each made the same, simple, honest mistake that in turn just happened to make each millions and millions, and millions of dollars.

    And if the program stands to save billions, the amount of that fine is a joke.

  27. 27
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Hahahaha, I love how Obama is busting all the fraud. This homeless woman I know got a dupe phone for her do-nothing boyfriend. They busted her recently and told her they’d take hers away if she tried it again.

    If I seem insensitive, well, if you knew these people–her I pity because she has serious emotional/cognitive problems but her life is a mess because she’s latched onto him. He’s a glib ass narcissistic user who malingers but fortunately the government decided he’s NOT disabled. He is a fool, though, lost an inherited property because he refused to sell some of it to pay the taxes.

    Most homeless people in my town are working, and of the ones that aren’t, most of those have such severe mental or substance abuse problems that they can’t work. Or they’re looking for work but are only getting employed on a temporary basis and have to go through the cycle repeatedly due to lack of in-demand skills. But then you have people like that creep. He’s not mentally ill, he has a personality disorder. And he needs an ass-whupping. Not that it would change his behavior.

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