Let’s take it to the open seas! Are you familiar with pirate history? Perhaps you’ve read about Blackbeard’s infamous capture of South Carolina in 1718. If not, you’ve surely seen at least one chapter of the recent pirate movie sequels. You know the drill: cannon balls fly between ships and the battle is fought to the death, unless one hoists the surrender flag. Although pirate fights are now left to the big screens, the method of surrendering has become quite prominent in the world of fraud. According to an article in MLive, one Michigan fraudster hoisted her surrender flag at the last moment, taking a plea deal for her participation in welfare fraud.
The Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) is a state program that provides welfare assistance to Michigan residents in need of additional funding for housing, food and cash assistance etc. An investigation discovered a Bay City woman falsified statements on her DHS application and squeezed a little more assistance out of the program than she was eligible for. A Michigan DHS report claimed: “The subject, [name], acknowledged an understanding to report information truthfully and to report all changes to her household.” But how much did things in the household change between October 1, 2008 and July 31, 2010 to render the fraudster less eligible for benefits?
Investigators found that during October 2008 and July 2010, the woman neglected to inform Michigan DHS that the father of her children moved into her home and continued to live there from July 2009 onward. In addition, she did not notify DHS that she was the recipient of disability benefits. Court documents show she had signed a statement five separate times during that period, explaining her understanding of the necessity of providing truthful information. (Omission is just the same as lying.) The fraudster received a total of $8,016, only $3,821 being lawful, leaving $4,195 as fraudulent. As she entered the court for her sentencing, she took a last minute plea bargain, pleading guilty to one count of welfare fraud more than $500, failure to inform, a four-year felony. (Talk about a last minute surrender!) Her sentencing is scheduled for mid-July 2013.
While Michigan is far from the ocean, and less inclined to pirate surrenders, the surrender of a welfare fraudster is a win the government will take. I say make her walk the plank into jail.