(WASHINGTONEXAMINER) — The federal subsidy known as the “Obamaphone” or “Obamanet” program could be losing nearly $500 million to fraud annually, according to a top Republican on the Federal Communications Commission.

Commissioner Ajit Pai made the accusation Wednesday in letter to the Universal Service Administrative Company, referring to the FCC’s Universal Service Fund, which provides a monthly $9.95 subsidy for telecom service to low-income consumers.

The subsidy is limited to one per “independent economic household,” or IEH, but telecom companies have the ability to override that restriction if applicants check a box stating they represent a separate household, even if they have the same address.

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