Sticky Fingers

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10300593 - house of dollars on a gray background

Fraud is sticky. It reaches out and traps others in its tacky grasp. Today’s fraudster was caught because of the breakup of a massive decades-old retail crime ring based in Manhattan, New York. “Operation Sticky Fingers” arrested 12 suspects for participating in one of the largest-ever organized retail theft and fencing rings. One of the suspects is linked to today’s fraudster, who happened to be involved in a housing fraud scheme. The Elmont, New York woman defrauded the Nassau County Department of Social Services of $1,000 in housing benefits she did not qualify for or deserve.

The woman had her co-defendant (the man who was arrested in the crime ring) pose as her landlord. Additional research shows that he faked several signatures on housing verification and benefit eligibility forms that were required by the Nassau County Department of Social Services. (As a result, she was able to illegally receive $1,000 in welfare benefits from the agency.)

Her fraudulent act was uncovered during “Operation Sticky Fingers” through the use of wiretaps and other electronic surveillance. Recorded conversations between the woman and her supposed “landlord” were uncovered showing their intent to defraud the government agency.

The 33-year-old female fraudster pleaded guilty to welfare fraud and was sentenced to one-and-a-half years to three years in prison. Sadly, she had previously been convicted for reckless assault of a child. (She caused her infant daughter to have a craniotomy to reduce brain swelling after she violently shook the baby to make her stop crying.)

We don’t have any information about the struggles in this New York woman’s life that drove her to commit housing fraud. Sometimes desperation can cause people to do things they ordinarily would not due if not in dire straits. (Other times, individuals are just plain greedy.) Here’s the moral of the story – any action that steals government benefits intended for people who are legitimately in need of support, undermines the safety net set up to help vulnerable beneficiaries. It’s important to note that even though the woman only stole $1,000, the government took the time and effort to track down this woman and make her an example of what not to do. (Unfortunately for her, she is now stuck with a second conviction and the designation of “criminal.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Elmont woman to serve up to 3 years for welfare fraud, AG saysposted on NewsDay.com on September 11, 2017.

An Elmont woman will serve up to 3 years in prison for her role in what prosecutors said was a scheme that allowed her to receive welfare benefits for which she wasn’t eligible.

Ana Candanedo, 33 was sentenced to 1 1/3 to 3 years in prison by Nassau County Court Judge Terence Murphy on Monday, nearly three months after she pleaded guilty to fourth-degree welfare fraud, according to a news release issued by state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

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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.