A Matter of Status

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When applying for government benefits, it’s important to be honest about your status. (The government doesn’t take kindly to lying.) An article published in The Virginia Gazette tells about how a woman was able to collect Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits by lying on her application form.

The article states that the woman made false statements and provided false documentation to the Department of Social Services in order to receive $6,196 in food stamp benefits. She indicated that her children were living with her during the time she was receiving the benefits. In reality, she was incarcerated. (That’s a double whammy to the taxpayers – paying for food stamps and prison at the same time.)

The 37-year-old mother was convicted on one count of felony welfare fraud. When asked by the police why she didn’t change her status on the paperwork to accurately reflect her household, she used her children as the excuse. After admitting she was guilty, she claimed she committed the crime for her kids, while also promising to pay back the stolen benefits. (Let’s hope she follows through on her promise.)

Many a fraudulent payment has been made to unscrupulous individuals who thought that no one would notice what was written on their application form. This case goes to prove that the government does mull over those important status details and will not hesitate to go after anyone who tries to steal any amount of money from a benefits program designated to help those less fortunate. (The article does not state why the woman was incarcerated in the first place, but it looks like her status is going to remain unchanged for now – still in jail and looking at up to 20 more years.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Woman Could Serve 20 Years for Welfare Fraud Conviction in James City,” written by Susan Robertson and published in The Virginia Gazette on January 22, 2015.

WILLIAMSBURG — A former James City woman accused of receiving more than $6,000 in fraudulent welfare benefits was convicted of a felony Thursday in circuit court, and could face up to 20 years in prison.

Melissa Tekisha Arrington, 37, pleaded guilty to one count of felony welfare fraud. Cathy Black, deputy commonwealth’s attorney, said that between March 2013 and February 2014 Arrington received $6,196 in benefits she was not entitled to from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Police said the James City County Department of Social Services reported the fraud in August.

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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.