When you’re moving, everything can get lost – your passport, favorite picture, a table and now, even your identity.  But don’t worry, these identity stealers aren’t after your bank account, and aren’t even trying to steal your Social Security number – instead, they’re after your welfare check.  But hey, you didn’t really need all that money to support yourself and your kids in the first place… did you?  Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from The Sun and reveals an entire California family that tried cheating the system to receive welfare checks.

The article reports that a 62-year old San Bernardino County welfare worker decided to look into the county’s computer system to find inactive welfare cases – whose physical descriptions matched those of her family and self.  (Gotta keep it believable!)  She changed the addresses so she and her family could be on the receiving end of benefits, and finished up the scheme by authorizing payments to be sent.  (Rookie mistake… everyone knows you don’t use your real address.)  This went on for nearly three years, as the family took money away from those who needed it.  When one of the victims moved back into San Bernardino County, she tried to get her benefits reinstated.  Instead, she was told she had been receiving benefits for quite some time – which led the police right to the crooks.

The mother, father, son and a family friend all pleaded guilty to their wrongdoings that landed them with several years of jail time each.  As investigations began, the leader of the pack was immediately cooperative and claimed to have felt remorseful for what she and her family had done.  (Feeling bad about stealing from the needy?  Maybe there is a heart in there after all?)  The family will appear in court on October 26 for a formal sentencing.

So, what can we learn from today’s fraud?  The fraudsters were able to get away with it until a real benefit recipient came forward.  How could this have been prevented?  Say it with me people:  by leveraging public records and identity-based data analytics technology to detect key indicators for fraud.  Enough said.

  1. Larry, this is the second time this week you’ve proposed using public records for identification. My question is, if all you are promoting is verifying info against other info, how does that identify someone? If the records are public, isn’t that information also available for theft? Yes, government agencies are waaaay behind the times in even verifying against the info they have, but this doesn’t sound like a very sustainable “solution” to fraud.

    • Brian,
      With the 20,000+ data sources that we ingest at LexisNexis, our ability to determine true identities with over 30 years of someone’s data, runs at 99.98% accuracy. We get national information that gives us a big leg up over state or federal self reported data. We provide the ability to 1) verify a person’s information such as name, address, social, and DOB. We can also authenticate the person via questions from public records, also known as “Knowledge Based Authentication”. The beneficiary will need to answer these questions to verify their identity and get the benefit. Questions such as “Of the 5 cars listed, which one have you owned in the last 15 years? OF the 5 colors listed, what color was that car? Of the 5 banks listed, which one holds your mortgage? Of the 5 area codes listed, which was the one used for your old phone number in the state previous to the state you now reside in?” If you can answer those questions within 2 minutes correctly, then the chances are it is really you. I hope this answers your question.

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