From “I Do’s” to divorce – some couples just never seem to separate.  Take for example, a Staten Island couple featured in today’s Fraud of the Day from the NYDailyNews.com.  They were married in 2006, separated in 2007 and divorced in 2009. But, their story doesn’t end there.  It now includes allegations of fraud.

Following the ceremonial “I do” and romantic honeymoon, typically come the legal necessities such as claiming a home together, taxes, etc.  According to the article, this duo may have missed the memo, allegedly racking up nearly $100,000 in federal housing subsidies, Medicaid benefits and food stamps.  (Where do we start?)   Prosecutors say the fraud occurred during a time in which the husband held a job as a bus driver, making nearly $104,000 a year – a job that he has held for 32 years.  During this time, he and his wife allegedly posed as a landlord and tenant, fraudulently collecting near $60,000 in Section 8 rent subsidies spanning from 2006 to 2011.  In addition, prosecutors assert that the husband failed to report his wife as a member of the household, allowing her to collect $9,000 in food stamps, and more than $24,000 in Medicaid benefits.  

Upon discovery of these activities, the couple was charged with theft of government funds and released on $100,000 bond each, following an arraignment in Manhattan Federal Court.  The couple denies the charges.  According to the couples’ lawyer they have not lived together as “man and wife” since their divorce in 2009.  

The defendants are, of course, innocent until proven guilty.  Even so, the scenario is worth considering.  Household composition is a key factor in deciding eligibility for a number of public assistance programs.  How hard is it for individuals to lie?  Not hard at all.  How difficult is it to catch them in a lie?  Actually, it is pretty easy, if the agencies administering these programs leverage identity-based filters to detect fraud.  Public records and data analytics technology help agencies to see a more complete picture of the benefit applicants than their applications may reveal.  Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, “S.I. Pair Busted in Fraud,” written by Robert Gearty and published by NYDailyNews.com on August 31, 2012.

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