Juggling Deception

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Jugglers are amazingly adept at keeping a variety of objects up in the air, all at the same time. It takes a great deal of skill, concentration and good eye and hand coordination to keep balls, bowling pins, swords, or flaming items moving in the same direction without dropping one. Juggling doesn’t always involve tossing things in the air. It can also include managing a variety of tasks at the same time, most commonly referred to as ”multitasking.” Multitaskers can sometimes take on too much responsibility and end up ”dropping the ball,” like two Kalamazoo women, who were caught in a conspiracy to defraud the government of some undeserved welfare benefits as reported by mlive.com.

The story reports that over a four-year period, a former high school English teacher helped care for her sister’s two children on a regular basis after her teaching day ended. The sister with the children was juggling a job as a teacher’s aide during the day and working several second and third shift jobs after school to make ends meet. (She has an admirable work ethic. When did the woman sleep?) Court records show that the aunt often took care of the children overnight, while the mother was working, and would drop them off at her sister’s house on her way to work. (This sounds like a loving family member who was helping out a sister in need.) Incidentally, the job-juggling sister qualified for subsidized child care during this time. The sister who provided the child care billed the State of Michigan for approximately $138 per week for services she provided for her sister’s two daughters. (Note that the state doesn’t provide child care for an adult who is a child’s primary caretaker.)

The two sisters made it appear like the children were living with the mother to obtain welfare benefits, when in actuality, the children spent more time with the aunt than the mother. Even though the aunt was not the legal guardian, court records show the children interpreted the child care as actually living with their aunt. The sister, who was paid in cash for her babysitting services, denied that she split the money with her sister, who qualified for the benefits. She stated that the cash was used to pay bills including her own daughter’s gymnastics lessons.

A jury found the sister, who provided the child care services, guilty of wrongful billing for child care payments. She is facing a sentence of nine years in prison.

When juggling, it is a fact that gravity causes things that go up to come down. The gravity of this situation is that the sister, who needed the child care, was deceptive in her efforts to provide care for her children. Now her sister will be paying the price for the deception.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on the article titled, ”Kalamazoo Jury Finds Former High School Teacher Guilty of Welfare Fraud in Complicated Case,” written by Julie Mack and published on mlive.com on October 16, 2013.

KALAMAZOO, MI — Bettina Smith says she is a honest, hard-working woman who taught high school English during the day and, after school, cared for her sister’s children while the sister worked second- and third-shift jobs.

The state of Michigan maintains that Smith and her sister, Della Nichols, created a conspiracy to defraud the state of welfare benefits. Specially, the state accuses Smith of wrongfully billing it for child-care payments for two of Nichols’ children.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.