- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2014

The number of residents in Maryland who took advantage of the federally funded free phone program — dubbed by some as “Obamaphone” — swelled between 2009 and 2012 to about 645,000.

About half that number aren’t even supposed to be eligible for the phone give-away, either, the Washington Examiner reported.

The program is actually called Lifeline, and it’s a Federal Communications Commission project that imposes fees on phone companies — and by extension, paying customers — to give free telephones to low-income Americans, ostensibly for emergency purposes.

The 645,000 now estimated in Maryland to have these free phones is about 100 times the number that was reported for 2009, the Washington Examiner reported.

The FCC says it’s put in fraud controls — but so far, millions of dollars have been wasted on the program, the newspaper reported.

“By the third quarter of 2012, the number of Lifeline subscribers in Maryland had risen almost 100 fold to 645,000,” compared to 2009, said industry consultant Billy Jack Gregg, during recent congressional testimony, the Washington Examiner reported. “Moreover, the current number of Lifeline subscribers in Maryland is almost double the number of low income households in the state” that are deemed eligible for the program.”

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