Defraud us once, shame on you; defraud us twice, shame on us. Sometimes, the fraudsters aren’t the only ones to blame. Keeping track of who is eligible for what benefits and who actually receives them is an incredibly daunting challenge–and sometimes things slip through the cracks. Today’s Fraud of the Day from the North Platte Bulletin is a case in point.
The article reports that a Nebraska man was recently discovered to be receiving disability benefits while employed. Here’s a little background on the case: after a vehicle pinned his body against a workbench in 1997, the defendant applied for and received disability benefits. (Okay, so far so good.) The only condition was that he report any work activity he may perform in the future. (Seems reasonable.) Between 2004 and 2005, he failed to report his job as an accountant (That’s a problem.), and during that time he earned $12,760 in fraudulent benefits. (A big problem.)
When the government learned of his employment, his benefits were cancelled. He then quit his job and reapplied for benefits, which he received. (Sorry, he was caught defrauding the system and was then given more money?) Between 2007 and 2011, he began working as a driver for a company that he ran with his wife. He failed to disclose that job or his income to the government, and accrued $48,039 in disability benefits. The defendant was sentenced to serve five years of probation and to pay $57,000 in restitution.
As wonderful as would be for fraudsters to magically grow a conscience and care about other peoples’ money, it probably isn’t going to happen. And, as long as we can bank on the fraudsters to fraud, we need to be able to bank on the government’s ability to crack down on it. Cross-checking an individual’s government benefits with his/her actual situation will keep a fraudster’s fingers out of taxpayers’ wallets.