This Day On The Street
Continue to site
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

Fraudulent Signatures Discovered On Lifeline Phone Applications

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- For millions of low-income families, the federal government's Lifeline program offers affordable phone service. But a Scripps News investigation has uncovered people across the country whose signatures appeared on applications for phones and phone service without their knowledge. The fraudulent applications were for two phone companies participating in Lifeline: Oklahoma City-based TerraCom Inc. and its affiliate, YourTel America Inc.

Darryl Nelson of San Antonio, Texas, has never even heard of TerraCom. But there was his home address, his Social Security number and his signature on the bottom of a TerraCom Lifeline application-- misspelled and in someone else's handwriting.

"This is crazy," said Nelson, 51. "This is wrong."

Nelson was among 50 people in four states discovered by Scripps who had applications submitted in their names without their knowledge.

Former contract agents who worked for TerraCom and Yourtel told Scripps they forged application signatures, manufactured addresses and retained legitimate applicants' Social Security numbers and other personal information.

"It's about speed, quickness, money," said Reginald Strode, a former YourTel contract agent in suburban St. Louis. Strode said he questioned a team leader about having to sign others' names. "I was told, 'Don't worry about it. Just do it so it can get done.'"

Questions about TerraCom-YourTel's business practices have led to investigations in Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma and Texas. And in July, TerraCom began terminating all 700 Lifeline sales staffers out of concern that rogue agents were breaking program rules.

Dale Schmick, chief operating officer for both companies, said he was unfamiliar with the forged applications. TerraCom and YourTel didn't conduct criminal background checks on sales agents, and Schmick said he didn't know if they were forbidden from simultaneously working for competing Lifeline providers.

Federal regulations do not specify how participating companies must vet and oversee Lifeline agents.

1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG

Markets

Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,689.86 -56.12 -0.32%
S&P 500 2,103.84 -4.79 -0.23%
NASDAQ 5,128.2810 -0.5040 -0.01%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs