ObamaPhone.com smeared in viral story about fraud, waste and abuse

ObamaPhone.com is a straightforward news and information website that has never advocated for nor approved any of the fraud, waste and abuse that with which the Lifeline Assistance program is often tarred. Our goal has always been to simply provide an unbiased point of view on a worthwhile program that has the potential to help so many millions of Americans who struggle so mightily in today’s economy.

So it came as quite a shock to see this website’s good name trashed in a viral news video produced by television station Denver CBS4.

The story is a follow-up to a sting operation the same station conducted three months ago in an effort to uncover blatant fraud, waste and abuse by agents of Total Call Mobile, one of dozens of companies that compete in the Lifeline Assistance free government cell phone business. Agents of the company were caught offering cell phones to customers who were clearly unqualified for the program.

As Denver CBS4 reports, “In one case a Total Call agent used someone else’s food stamp card to provide eligibility for a CBS4 producer. On another occasion another Total Call agent said it would be perfectly fine to use a friend’s food stamp card to establish eligibility and obtain a free phone.”

Now, three months after that sting operation, we find our good name associated with fraud, waste and abuse in a follow-up story. You’ll see our website prominently featured at the :48 mark of the video shown below.

Total Call responded to the CBS4 story with a letter that said, in part, “Total Call Mobile is outraged by the unacceptable actions shown in the broadcast. The broadcast depicted both agents and applicants seeking to improperly participate in the Lifeline program. They were both engaged in fraudulent activity … to enroll in the Lifeline program among other improper actions.”

ObamaPhone.com is equally outraged by the way our name and image were used as though we are connected to this story in any way. To be clear, we are not. And to be clear once again, we oppose and condemn in the harshest terms possible all fraud, waste and abuse of the Lifeline Assistance program.

This is not the only problem with the CBS4 story. It also refers to Total Call as “A nationwide cellphone company…” and strongly implies that this company’s actions are something other than an aberration in the industry.

In reality, Total Call Mobile currently offers Obama Phones only in Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana and Washington. By no stretch of the imagination can Total Call be called a national company. Let’s call it what it is — a company so small that it doesn’t register on most lists of Obama Phone vendors.

Total Call’s letter went on to say that the company would provide evidence gathered by the television station to “the appropriate governmental authorities. Regarding the incorrect or improper statements by agents that were brought to our attention in your broadcast, all of the agents that were distributing for Total Call Mobile have been identified and their access to our system has been permanently blocked.”

Denver CBS4 has slandered our good name by unfairly associating us with fraud, waste and abuse performed by agents of one small company.

We now call on the station to do the right thing and clear our name.