In life, there are things that we want, like great jobs and nice cars, and things that we need.  At a minimum, the basic needs can be narrowed down to food, clothing and shelter.  If you are lacking in one of those three key areas, you probably need a bit of help.  A public housing program known as Section 8 provides assistance to individuals who fall into the last category.  This federally funded program, administered by local Public Housing Authorities (PHA), allows individuals who meet eligibility criteria to receive subsidies so they can afford housing.  Unfortunately, there are some people who take advantage of the system, and try to defraud it.  Today’s fraud from DNAInfo.com focuses on two separate cases, each highlighting similar approaches to potentially defrauding PHAs.

The article reports first that a Manhattan man was charged with theft of public funds for allegedly renting out his apartment in a Lower East Side public housing development.  The defendant, who authorities say has lived in Washington (not exactly the same neighborhood) since 2001, allegedly advertised the apartment as a sublet via the Internet and charged tenants $850 a month.

Next, the article focuses on the case of a female defendant from Queens who was charged with theft of public funds and making false statements.  She allegedly “paid roughly $72 a month in rent for a Brooklyn apartment” and falsely claimed the apartment as her main residence.  (If true, what did she do with the apartment?)  Authorities say that she actually lived in Queens and defrauded the government of $123,000 in illegal benefits over eight years.

In this case, the system worked:  the New York City Housing Authority’s investigators discovered the alleged fraud.  (Great work!)  The commissioner for the authority’s Department of Investigation stated:  “Fraudsters continue to create new ways to profit illegally from public housing benefits and apartments.  But DOI investigators are just as innovative, meticulously tracking down the facts and exposing the scams.”

So, the question for the day is:  what are PHAs in your area doing to track down fraudsters?

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