In the “Big Easy,” you can take a walk down the busy streets of NOLA, catching beads and sipping drinks, or venture to the swampy depths to hunt alligator or pack the stadium to cheer on the football team.  From the Cajun spices to the voodoo lifestyle to the southern belles, you’re bound to find something to strike your fancy.  Today’s Fraud of the Day from KLFY.com makes it clear that Louisiana isn’t just a place for locals and tourists to taste the treasures of the South; it’s also a place to be on the lookout for fraud.

Two defendants have found themselves on supervised probation, a result of a fraudulent scam gone wrong.  In separate investigations by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the two fraudsters found themselves caught in a couple lies worthy of government punishment.  The authorities discovered that the women failed to tell officials with the DCFS that their husbands were living with them.  (Oh, THAT husband. Yes, I forgot that he lived with me.)  To be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), applicants must accurately report key information, such as income, employment and household composition.  By failing to disclose the true number of people living in their respective households, the defendants committed fraud.

The court ordered them to pay a combined total of nearly $21,000 in restitution – about the amount they had collectively stolen.  One fraudster owes the government $7,722 and will serve five years probation, while the other one owes $13,270; she will serve two years of probation.  (All they get is probation and restitution?  Don’t you think a slap on the wrist may encourage more fraudulent activity?)

In a statement of warning to other food stamp fraudsters by the secretary of the DCFS, as seen in a CTPost article, “DCFS will use all of its available tools, including the latest in technology and resources, to track down those who choose to break the law and will seek prosecution to the fullest extent possible.”  

Whether you neglected to mention your husband lived with you, or lied about your income or employment, committing fraud by omission is still fraud.  The DCFS clearly gets this and is out to prosecute offenders.  Food stamp fraudsters in the “Big Easy” should keep that in mind, next time they decide to “forget” their spouses.

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