Let’s face it:  the rules matter (even though we often rebel against them).  And when it comes to receiving government benefits, following the rules is particularly important.  Agencies use rules to determine who is eligible for benefits and who isn’t – an important job when you consider that limited funding is available through these programs to help society’s most needy.  When the agency providing the benefit calls into question whether someone receiving a benefit is following the rules, the beneficiary may find him or herself in hot water.  (Trouble, right here in river city.)  That’s the case in today’s Fraud of the Day article from the Providence Journal, which reported that a city worker is accused with her stepfather of defrauding the Providence Housing Authority of federal funds.

According to the article, citing a police affidavit and report, the woman allegedly rented a home owned by her stepfather and mother for 10 years.  During that time, the report says her parents collected more than $89,854 in federal housing funds.  U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations prohibit from renting to or from family members.

Three things should be noted:  1) the woman turned herself into authorities to face a conspiracy charge, 2) as of this writing, she hasn’t been charged of anything and 3) even if she or members of her family had been charged, they would be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

That said this article raises a series of important questions:  what systems are in place in your public housing authority to find fraud?  Does your public housing authority have the data or the capability to analyze the data that would show one family member renting to another?  Agencies often use rules-based filters to find fraud.  And these work well, but they don’t catch everything.  They aren’t designed to find identity-based fraud.  To solve that problem, agencies need to leverage solutions with identity-based filters that can analyze public records against government data files to find fraud in their programs.

So, here’s the question for the day:  is your agency using an identity-based solution to find fraud?

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