(Daily Mail - UK)
Undercover video shot in May by a conservative activist shows two corporate distributors of free cell phones handing out the mobile devices to people who have promised to sell them for drug money, to buy shoes and handbags, to pay off their bills, or just for extra spending cash.
The ‘Obama phone,’ which made its ignominious YouTube debut outside a Cleveland, Ohio presidential campaign event last September, is a project of the Federal Communications Commission’s ‘Lifeline’ program, which makes land line and mobile phones available to Americans who meet low-income requirements.
Lifeline was a $2.19 billion program in 2012.
Recipients most commonly demonstrate their need by flashing an Electronic Benefits Transfer card to verify their eligibility for welfare payments, or by bringing tax statements to a phone provider.
The phones’ legitimate purposes include poverty-level job applicants’ use as contact numbers for job interviews and emergency contacts for children of single parents.
But when James O’Keefe, whose Project Veritas is a perennial thorn in the side of progressive policymakers, sent an undercover actor into a Stand Up Wireless location in Philadelphia, the man’s stated purpose was to buy drugs.
‘Once you guys give me this phone, it’s my phone?’ he asked an employee inside a Philadelphia brick-and-mortal Stand Up Wireless location. ‘I can, like, sell it and stuff?’
‘Whatever you want to do with it,’ the worker replied.
‘So I’m [going to] get some money for heroin,’ he offered.
The employee coolly responded, ‘Hey, I don’t judge.’
Salespeople working for Stand Up Wireless and TerraCom Wireless – the two companies featured in the video footage – were willing to assign phones to applicants who said they would immediately sell them instead of using them according to the program’s guidelines.
O’Keefe published a five-minute compilation of his video investigation Tuesday morning, along with a longer reel of raw footage. MailOnline has reviewed both.
Inside an outdoor tent erected by Stand Up Wireless in the City of Brotherly Love, an O’Keefe plant probed a sales rep on May 21.
‘Once it’s my phone, I don’t need to, like, bring it back or anything?’ he asked, while the female worker shook her head in the negative. ‘It’s my phone, right?’
‘Mm-hm,’ she responded
If you’re interested in learning — wanting to know how much the phone’s worth,’ the woman offered later in the conversation, ‘[I] recommend you go to any pawn shop. They’ll be more than happy to tell you, OK?’
‘OK,’ the actor replied. ‘So I could get the phone and then sell it?’
‘Yeah,’ she said, ‘I don’t care what you do with it.’
A TerraCom Wireless salesman performed with similar disregard for federal law.
One young woman, posing as a low-income citizen on May 8 during a Terracom promotional giveaway in Minneapolis, asked plainly if she would be permitted to sell her new phone.
‘It’s kind of like, the first thing that I do is this here,’ the TerraCom rep responded, referring to the required paperwork. ‘And unfortunately there are people on drugs. They get this phone, and they go get $40. … You basically do whatever you want to do with it. That’s what I’m trying to tell you.’
‘Well, I’m not on drugs,’ she replies, ‘but there is a really awesome pair of shoes at the store that I want.’
In mere seconds the TerraCom worker is seen breaking into uproarious laughter...