The FCC today proposed a fine of more than $63 million against American Broadband and Telecommunications Company for violating rules regarding the Lifeline program. The company, a wireless reseller based in Ohio, “improperly sought and received Lifeline funding by creating numerous ineligible Lifeline subscriber accounts.” For example, the company created accounts for some 12,000 deceased persons, as well as manipulated the personal data (names, social security numbers) of existing Lifeline customers. American Broadband also failed to de-register customers that became ineligible for the program, making for a total of more than 42,000 false claims. The Lifeline program provides a $9.25 subsidy to service providers for low-income Americans. That savings is supposed to be passed on to eligible Lifeline customers to help lower the cost of service. The FCC says American Broadband kept the falsely-claimed subsidies for itself. The agency is putting the entire $63 million liability on American Broadband owner Jeffrey Ansted for using the funds to pay for a Ferrari, a $1.3 million condo, yard work, yacht and country club memberships, and an $8 million Cessna airplane. Ansted will be given a chance to respond to the Commission’s allegations, which the agency is willing to amend should Ansted have evidence proving otherwise.
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