Inspector General Analysis Spots ACP Fraud

Randy Sukow


recent report (PDF) from the FCC’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) finds that malefactors have already found a way to take advantage of the young Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The report finds that the amount of fraud is still relatively small in comparison to the overall scale of the ACP, but that the trend is growing. The most flagrant abuses have come from those enrolling through “certain” internet providers. OIG reminded providers that they are responsible for confirming the eligibility of  those benefiting from ACP.

ACP provides deep discounts on broadband service to low-income households based on at least one member of the household being a Benefit Qualifying Person (BQP) receiving Medicaid or other government assistance. However, OIG’s investigations “clearly show that a number of providers and their agents have enrolled many households into the ACP based on the eligibility of a single BQP. A single BQP cannot be used to qualify multiple households for ACP support simultaneously.”

OIG checked records dating back to May 2021 when ACP operated under its original name, the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB). Under both EBB and ACP rules, those applying for benefits must provide the name and date of birth of the household’s BQP(s), as well as another form of identification. Often the provider will use the last for digits of the BQP’s Social Security number as the additional ID.

“In the most egregious example identified, more than one thousand Oklahoma households were enrolled based on the eligibility of a single BQP, a 4-year-old child who receives Medicaid benefits,” according to the report. Three internet providers collected a total of $365,00 in the Oklahoma case. OIG also spotlighted a case where a single provider collected $230,000 for service to 997 households listing the same Medicaid enrollee.

“Whatever we are doing to deter this type of fraud is not working. More action is needed to safeguard these federal dollars and ensure that they deliver on the goals Congress has set out,” said Commissioner Brendan Carr in a statement (PDF).

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