Massive Fraud, Wasteful Spending Discovered In 'Lifeline' Phone Program 13 WTHR Indianapolis INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR)- Eyewitness News has discovered a program created to provide low-income Americans with emergency phone services has now grown into a multi-billion dollar program paid for with your money. 13 Investigates shows how every time you pay your cell phone bill you are helping someone else get a phone to talk and text for free. The cost of the free cell phones has exploded in the past three years. In 2008, the program cost $772 million, but by 2011, the cost more than doubled to $1.6 billion.The FCC audited the Lifeline program last year, uncovering 400,000 instances of multiple phones distributed to individual people. In Indiana alone, 16 percent of people who got free cell phones did not qualify for the program.