Total Call Mobile, a small US operator, will pay $30 million and quit the government’s telecoms scheme Lifeline to settle an FCC fraud investigation.

The case related to the company’s participation in the Lifeline programme, which provides subsidised mobile and landline services for qualifying low-income families in the US.

Under the scheme, carriers receive $9.25 per month to provide services that allow people to connect with potential employers, family members and the emergency services.

As part of the settlement, Total Call admitted to engaging in a range of fraudulent practices related to Lifeline, including enrolling tens of thousands of ineligible customers. According to the judgement, sales agents processed duplicate and ineligible subscribers by using fake or repeated eligibility cards and false subscriber information.

“We have no toleration for fraud,” said FCC enforcement bureau chief Travis LeBlanc. “This unprecedented $30 million settlement along with a permanent ban from the Lifeline program affirms our commitment to pursue the strongest sanctions for those who defraud or abuse the Universal Service program. We thank our partners at the Department of Justice for working with us to make sure that companies that commit fraud are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

The $30 million settlement includes a repayment to the Universal Service Fund and a penalty paid to the US Treasury.