Not Child’s Play

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Here’s a new one. Instead of a fraudster who collects unemployment benefits while hiding a job, this is the case of one pretending to have a job in order to collect childcare benefits, while simultaneously claiming jobless benefits. (Must have seemed like a good scam at the time.) According to a recent WKMG-TV report, a mother of five falsely asserted to Florida welfare authorities that she worked at her children’s daycare facility, so that she could fraudulently collect state-sponsored childcare benefits allocated for working parents.

Prosecutors point to three different times in the course of 15 months in which the defendant lied to the Florida Department of Children and Families about her employment status, claiming that she worked for the daycare facility attended by four of her children, and submitted to the agency fake pay records. She wove this web of deceit in order to obtain childcare subsidies that had been allocated for working parents or those pursuing education. (The ones who truly need childcare because they have real jobs, not fake ones.)

What’s ironic about this woman’s fraud is that by pretending that she worked for a childcare provider, she was able to collect more than $20,000 in subsidies, which she then paid to the provider she had claimed as her employer. When state fraud investigators found that she was collecting unemployment benefits as well, her scheme was exposed. (The cost of daycare for her children was covered so she could work, but that obviously did not ‘work’ for her.) Ultimately, a jury convicted her of grand theft and welfare fraud.

There is a waiting list for the Florida program from which the woman stole $20,000, and the state sees around 65,000 applications for related childcare subsidies. These are children who need somewhere safe to go while their low-income parents work hard to make ends meet. Nonetheless, news cameras captured the defendant raising both of her middle fingers as she left the courtroom in pink handcuffs. (Sounds like she was ready for her 15 minutes!)Given her flagrant disregard for the severity of her crimes, it shouldn’t come as a shock that her punishment was severe. After serving six months in prison, she must pay back the state at least $100 per month during her probationary period of fourteen years. (Let’s hope that her children are not the only ones to grow up in that time.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Mom jailed for welfare fraud,” written by Mike DeForest and published by WKMG News 6 on February 19, 2016.

Wearing pink handcuffs, Candice Neil flashed two middle fingers at a News 6 camera as court deputies escorted her to jail.

Four days earlier, a jury convicted the single mother of grand theft and welfare fraud after prosecutors proved that the unemployed woman lied about having a job in order to obtain more than $20,000 in state child care subsidy.

”This was not an impulsive action or something that was done on the spur of the moment,” said Assistant State Attorney Robert J. Welch. ”This was very much a premeditated crime that spanned over 15 months.”

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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.