Looks like everyone had an angle in this case. This LoHud.com story notes that four people have been charged with defrauding the Rockland, New York Department of Social Services out of $44,000 in public assistance.

Simply put: the alleged fraudsters, who are unrelated (except for a husband and- wife team), applied for aid they weren’t entitled to and cashed the checks. In this story, the government benefits at issue aren’t limited to one type. The individuals allegedly took different approaches to defrauding multiple government assistance programs to include Medicaid, home energy assistance, emergency safety net, and federal housing assistance. So many ways to defraud, so little time. They allegedly under-reported income, concealed home/business ownership, used false names and Social Security data, just to name a few improper acts.

The key issues here for taxpayers and agencies are the fact that $44,000 taxpayer dollars were allegedly stolen and the agency’s ability to verify the identities and information of the benefit applicants so that it isn’t ever defrauded again. So the question of the day is…if the technology exists for agencies to leverage public records to verify information on an applicant’s benefit information, why aren’t agencies using it?

  1. The reason public agencies are not verifying some information is due to the fact that the Federal Government has pushed the states to relax the rules in order to get more people on assistance. “Don’t over verify” is the mandate and we can be sanctioned if we do. The rules are written very loosely right now, which makes it easier for people to defraud and harder and longer for agencies to catch it. In Colorado, Medicaid allows a client/applicant to “self declare” their income and prohibits the agency from requiring verification of that income. Only when it comes to the fraud unit is it allowed to be verified and it can only be sent to the fraud unit if something is questionable about the case. Additionally all resources such as bank accounts, vehicles, etc are exempt from counting toward their eligibity. Food Assistance does require income to be verified, but it’s still possible for someone not to report everyone in their household or their income. Resources are also exempt for Food Assistance. The Federal and State rules make it very difficult to prove fraud, but we do our best.

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