Email: Florida woman tied to alleged free phone scheme now in South Korea
'Concerned Citizen' asks if charges filed in 'phone fraud case'
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Winter Park woman linked to an alleged Florida scheme that provided free phones for veterans may have left the country to teach at a private school in South Korea, leaving behind unanswered questions in the multimillion-dollar government phone scandal.
News 6 broke the story of Laine Strutton’s alleged role in the approval of free phones for Central Florida veterans and Winter Park police officers under the government’s Lifeline program.
Lawsuits filed in February by Tracfone suggest the approved applications were part of an estimated 350,000 “ineligible” Florida residents-- approved because of a “material defect” in the software used to take the applications.
One of Elite’s top Central Florida employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Strutton told employees to push two buttons on the tablets being used when signing up veterans.
“We were instructed… to push Medicaid and SSI (Social Security) because the VA tab that they were creating just hadn’t been done yet," the employee said.
Tracfone said it discovered the glitch last July.
Strutton left the company that same month and started a new job in Clearwater, Florida.
After that, she was off the grid until this past weekend.
A series of emails received by News 6 from a mystery woman on Saturday suggest Strutton has been teaching at a private academy in South Korea for “less than a week.”
The woman who signed the first email “a concerned citizen” has asked not to be identified.
She claims to work at an “elite English academy” with Strutton and asked twice if any charges had been filed in the “fraud situation.”
She declined to name the school, saying only:
“I don't think my boss knows about the fraud situation, so I would rather talk to him on Monday before addressing Laine with any information. The school is an elite English academy in Seoul with a very high reputation, as many of our students' parents are government officials or delegates.“
Strutton has a doctorate in law and society from New York University.
She was hired by Elite Marketing of New York last year to recruit applicants for Safelink phones under the government’s Lifeline program.
In one of her last communications to employees taking applications from Florida veterans, she wrote:
“Do not over talk. The more words that come out of your mouth the greater the chance that they will
ask even more questions.”
Federal investigators have interviewed former Elite employees who worked for Strutton. No charges have been filed in the case.
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