Home - , , - FCC To Fine Total Call Mobile $51 Million For Alleged Enrollment Fraud

FCC To Fine Total Call Mobile $51 Million For Alleged Enrollment Fraud

federal-communications-commission
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is looking to issue a fine in the amount of $51.1 million to wireless carrier Total Call Mobile. The penalty is reportedly for “widespread enrollment fraud” in which Total Call Mobile is said to be collecting improper payments made by way of a program that was established to give mobile users with financial struggles a helping hand.

The enrollment fraud was aimed at Lifeline, a program that was created to provide discounted mobile services to users with low income levels.The Lifeline program is part of the Universal Service Fund, and is being paid for by Americans by way of surcharges on phone bills.

According to a statement that the FCC has released, Total Call Mobile has apparently received $9.7 million worth of payments since 2014. The wireless carrier did this by enrolling tens of thousands of duplicate or unqualified customers. What is worse is that the company continued this practice despite clear and repeated warnings from its own employees and even compliance specialists that there was widespread enrollment fraud being committed by Total Call Mobile’s sales agents.

Based on the FCC’s findings, Total Call Mobile employed various ploys in collecting fraudulent payments, executed through over 800 of the wireless carrier’s sales agents in no less than 13 states across America. As indicated on the FCC’s Notice of Apparent Liability, Total Call Mobile sales agents sneakily took users’ ID info, enrolled individual users for multiple devices without their consent or knowledge, and then falsely stated that unqualified users are eligible to join in the Lifeline program.

With regards to duplicate sign ups, Total Call Mobile sales agents apparently made this possible by making slight changes to a user’s ID info during the enrollment process. These sales agents also allegedly enrolled unqualified users with the use of temporary Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cards, which bear no identifying names or information. As explained by the FCC, one SNAP card can be used to sign up more than one unqualified user in order to collect subsidies from the US government.

Even though Total Call Mobile made use of a third party (via CGM’s electronic platform) in processing Lifeline enrollment for users, its sales agents employed an override function to bypass denials. The FCC found that in the final quarter of 2014, 99.8 percent of the wireless carrier’s sign ups across the US involved overriding the third party electronic platform designed to detect duplicate enrollments.

Total Call Mobile can still contest the FCC’s proposed $51.1 million fine, but for certain, it can expect a long battle ahead.


Source: Arstechnica

14 comments:

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  1. If accusations are true, they got off exteremly cheap. It should have been 10 times that, plus a couple years in the big house for the Co.'s brass

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  2. Looks like the other Lifeline providers will be under more scrutiny. Other's including Tracfone have already taken fines from the FCC for fraud and misaccounting. http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/tracfone-icon-and-others-face-fines-fcc-lifeline-crackdown/2013-10-01

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    1. According to this article "In a statement, TracFone said the FCC is disputing TracFone Lifeline wireless billing involving less than $8,000 and involving fewer than 850 people.

      Not quite the same thing. I doubt $8000 was knowingly defrauding the government and it hardly compares to 9.7 million.

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  3. Amazing how fast these slow news days occur Huh Dennis!

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  4. Has the govt. ever collected all the fines it levied against America Movil (Tracphone et al) & Sprint for similar shenanigans?

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  5. Are these the so called Obama phones? Unless there's jail time these crimes will continue.

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  6. more here - http://freebeacon.com/issues/fcc-kept-obamaphone-fraud-wraps-expanded-program/

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  7. Why was my comment removed?

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    1. Was it about politics? I remove those because they inevitably ignite an endless off-topic flame war.

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    2. Was it about politics? I remove those because they inevitably ignite an endless off-topic flame war.

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    3. I've seen far more political comments on this site and those weren't removed, but whatever buddy it's your blog.

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  8. Ringplus will be next in line to be fine. There something going on over there that we don't know about but nobody can't be giving free plans without doing someting illegal in the background.

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