Death Fraud

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Food stamp fraud is big business, and an increase in investigations has revealed that a large portion of this type of fraud occurs due to death. According to an article from the Food Stamps Organization, cases involving family members, who illegally collect benefits from deceased relatives, are on the rise.

Fewer case workers and law enforcement officials are available to clamp down on food stamp fraud, including death fraud, which is usually committed by relatives who are illegally using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from their deceased relatives. (EBT…It’s easy as 1-2-3 or simple as Do-Re-Mi.)

There are several different ways fraudsters exploit deceased food stamp beneficiaries. Some homes may have multiple benefit recipients who have died and food stamps still continue to arrive on a regular basis. (Oops, I forgot to report that they died.) Commonly, an elderly couple passes away, and the remaining family members continue to collect and use the food stamps. (They weren’t using them, so what’s the difference?)

Sadly, children are often used in death-related fraud cases to collect food stamps. In some cases, children, who died during or shortly after childbirth or at an older age due to tragic circumstances, are still listed on applications where one more child makes a big difference in the amount of assistance received.

A less common type of death fraud is committed by individuals who work the SNAP system in order to sell or use the benefits. For example, this fraud occurs when an elder care worker takes advantage of patients in nursing homes or hospice care by stealing their personal information to obtain SNAP benefits. The fraudsters usually gain access to the elderly person’s personal information and benefits prior to death and continue to use the benefits after their death until they can switch off to another beneficiary to avoid being caught.

Death waits for no one; just as some fraudsters can’t wait until others die so they can illegally benefit from their demise. Unfortunately, death fraud is lucrative and takes advantage of those who cannot defend themselves.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Food Stamp Fraud from the Dead,” published by the Food Stamps Organization on March 14, 2013.

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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.