There is nothing like coming across a person who is two-faced. Don’t you hate it when someone acts one way in front of you, but is a completely different person behind your back? Not surprisingly, this is a common occurrence with fraudsters, who often use alternate personalities to disguise their fraud. Today’s Fraud of the Day from the Alameda Patch focuses on the case of a mother who took the concept of being two-faced even further by using an alternate identity to facilitate her fraudulent activities.
The article reports that a California mother was recently sentenced to pay $111,400 in restitution, for what was described as Alameda’s largest single child care fraud case. Investigators found that the mother of three was a full-time employee of a local school district and married to a full-time civilian employee at a local Sherriff’s office. (Here are two individuals with consistently paying jobs – so obviously they need help with child care payments.) Court records indicate that she claimed to be a single mother of three and collected $185,032 from the state in child care assistance. (So if they weren’t paying for child care with this obviously unneeded money, what were they spending it on?) The District Attorney on the case pointed out that the couple’s combined income and health and dental insurance “were above the threshold to qualify” for child care benefits. She noted that the defendant “concealed or lied about these facts every year for nine consecutive years, thereby defrauding Alameda County of a total of $185,302 in grant money designated for children in need.”
The fraud was detected by an employee of the nonprofit organization through which the defendant falsely applied for the government child care benefits. When the District Attorney’s Office learned that the mother was not single, and living in a home that she and her husband purchased in 2005 – with substantial income and benefits for their children – they court charged the couple with several felonies to include conspiracy to commit fraud and grand theft. The mother pleaded guilty to grand theft, and received a sentence of five years probation and was ordered to pay restitution; the father was dismissed of all charges. The District Attorney said of the conviction: “Applicants who falsify their need [for childcare benefits] are stealing money set aside for the legitimately needy.”
It seems like an alternate personality wasn’t enough to hide this mother from the repercussions of her actions. I’m still wondering – where did that $185,000 go, if not for the child care? New car, big screen TV, membership to the country club?