I-Team: Ongoing welfare cell phones - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

I-Team: Ongoing welfare cell phones

Posted: Updated:
  • I-TeamMore>>

  • I-Team: Fung defends himself, city in lawsuit

    I-Team: Fung defends himself, city in lawsuit

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 7:06 PM EDT2014-08-20 23:06:32 GMT
    Cranston Mayor Allan FungCranston Mayor Allan Fung
    Cranston Mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung responds to a federal lawsuit filed by a Cranston police officer.
    Cranston Mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung responds to a federal lawsuit filed by a Cranston police officer.
  • I-Team: Cranston detective files federal lawsuit

    I-Team: Cranston detective files federal lawsuit

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 6:19 PM EDT2014-08-19 22:19:52 GMT
    Capt. Todd PatalanoCapt. Todd Patalano
    Todd Patalano files a lawsuit against Mayor Allan Fung, a former police chief and other officers for allegedly violating his civil rights.
    Todd Patalano files a lawsuit against Mayor Allan Fung, a former police chief and other officers for allegedly violating his civil rights.
  • Ethics Commission to probe lawmaker's beach bid

    Ethics Commission to probe lawmaker's beach bid

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 1:36 PM EDT2014-08-19 17:36:20 GMT
    Peter PalumboPeter Palumbo
    A Rhode Island state representative at the center of an NBC 10 I-Team investigation into questionable beach concession contracts is formally the subject of a state ethics commission investigation.
    A Rhode Island state representative at the center of an NBC 10 I-Team investigation into questionable beach concession contracts is formally the subject of a state ethics commission investigation.

Last year, NBC 10's I-Team uncovered a scam involving subsidized cell phones for low-income people.

The minutes on the phone are subsidized by a special assessment on your phone bill, a tax, mandated by the federal government.

The I-Team exposed several low-income people who were applying and getting up to four cell phones, when the government said there's only one subsidized phone per household.

Now, there's a new twist.

Carol Hamilton, of Cumberland, is not a low-income person.

She never applied for a subsidized phone, but several weeks ago she received two taxpayer-funded phones in the mail. One was for her, one was for her husband.

"I just, I didn't know why they were coming. I opened them and started to read the pamphlet on the back. The government says you have to use it once a month. These were the phones that were on TV, and I remember (the I-Team) had done a show on it," Hamilton said.

When she called the Safe Link cell phone company to tell them she had never applied for and didn't want the phones she was told to "throw it away or give it away."

So, Safe Link apparently doesn't care that taxpayers are partly subsidizing the phones, and it seemed what the company really wanted was personal identity information.

"All they wanted was my birth date and Social Security number. They couldn't tell me anything about the application," Hamilton said.

It appears Safe Link is randomly sending the phones to people who are not low-income hoping to get their personal information so the company can fill in a proper application.

The way the program works is the more phones Safe Link puts in use, the more the company is reimbursed by the special tax on phone bills.

If you receive a free cell phone in the mail and it's a subsidized phone and you are not qualified to have it, don't call the Safe Link company and supply your personal information, especially your Social Security number.

Safe Link did not respond to the I-Team's questions.

  • NBC 10 I-Team

  • Call the I-Team Fraud and Waste Hotline at 401-455-9123 or e-mail iteam@wjar.com.

    About the I-Team

    NBC 10's I-Team was the first investigative unit in Rhode Island.

    Formed in 1979, the I-Team has produced award-winning investigations into organized crime, public corruption and social issues ranging from child abuse to battered women.

  • The I-TeamMore>>

  • Katie Davis

    Katie Davis

    Katie Davis is an I-Team reporter at NBC 10. She joined the team in January 2010 and is excited to live and work in New England.
    Katie Davis is an I-Team reporter at NBC 10. She joined the team in January 2010 and is excited to live and work in New England.
  • Parker Gavigan

    Parker Gavigan

    Parker Gavigan is an Associated Press award-winning journalist, and was named to the NBC 10 I-Team in January 2013. Parker digs deeper to get the answers that matter to you.
    Parker Gavigan is an Associated Press award-winning journalist, and was named to the NBC 10 I-Team in January 2013. Parker digs deeper to get the answers that matter to you.
Powered by WorldNow

23 Kenney Drive
Cranston, R.I., 02920

Telephone: 401.455.9100
Fax: 401.455.9140
Email: news@wjar.com

Can't find something?

NBC 10 Outerwear Provided by:

NBC 10 Media Relations
Provided by:

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.