Have you ever wished you lived somewhere other than your current residence?  Perhaps a beachfront home on a secluded island or a cabin tucked away in the evergreens of Vermont?  Maybe you even wished that the father of your children didn’t live with you so you could collect welfare.  (What?  You say that’s not one that has occurred to you?)  According to today’s Fraud of the Day from a Journal Gazette article, one Indiana woman might just find herself wishing for just that, as she faces charges of welfare fraud.

When applying for welfare, individuals are required to provide accurate information, including factual statements about how many individuals live in their home.  For example, if the father of the applicant’s children lives with her, she must list him on the form.   (I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – omission is a form of lying, people!)  An Indiana mother of six is now facing charges of two counts of felony fraud, because investigators say she neglected to report that the father of five of her six children lived with her, which allegedly enabled her to qualify for a larger amount of child care and food stamp benefits.

Investigators tracked down the man’s employment applications at the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.  Authorities say he listed the same residence as the mother of his five children which is listed on her application for benefits.  In addition, officials located the school forms of the children, which allegedly stated that all six of the children lived with both parents in the same home.  (If true, this does not look good.)  According to court papers, child care officials said that the mother would not have been eligible for welfare if she had listed the father of the children as an occupant of this house.  Prosecutors say she received $435 in food stamps, and $40,101.50 in child care benefits from October 2009 through September 2011.

It should be noted that the defendant is merely accused of a crime; she is innocent until proven guilty and deserves her day in court.

Still, it’s worth pointing out that some welfare applicants – like any other population – lie.  Some are out to defraud the system, point blank.  Others may fall on tough times and think:  “what’s the harm in failing to list additional residents or downplay household income?”  The harm is simple…if someone lies on an application for government benefits, that’s fraud.  And, fraud takes money away from those who truly need the assistance. The details matter.

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