Exploiting Relatives

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41913416 - medicaid torn newspaper headline on cash

It’s bad enough when a random person is victimized by a fraudster, but when someone is victimized by their own family member, it’s even worse. A New York woman took advantage of two relatives and New York’s Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program by stealing $75,000 from the program which is funded by Medicaid.

The Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program allows relatives of physically disabled people to take full responsibility for their home care including the hiring, supervising and firing of aides. The woman in today’s “Fraud of the Day” case used the program to pay for the home health care of two of her relatives.

The woman who assumed the responsibility for taking care of her relatives scammed the government for nearly two-and-a-half years. She used the personal identification information of the aides hired to provide care to her relatives to falsify instances of work they did not actually perform. (She logged hours for the aides even when the workers were out of the country.)

 The deceptive woman was adept at submitting false timesheets, intercepting the aides’ paychecks, forging their signatures and cashing their paychecks. (She paid the aides some of the money, but kept some for herself.) Surprisingly, the aides were unaware that the woman was scamming them as well as the Medicaid program.

 The 57-year-old pleaded guilty to third-degree forgery and petty larceny for inflating the amount of care that her relatives received. She was sentenced to a week in jail, three years of probation, and 150 hours of community service. She also must pay a $1,000 fine.

 It’s a shame that this fraudster exploited her disabled family members so she could pocket money to which she was not entitled. (If I were the judge, I would have imposed another requirement – pay a premium price to make sure that her two relatives receive the best home health care possible.)

Source:Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Freeport woman sentenced in Medicaid fraud scheme” published by Newsday on May 26, 2017.

A Freeport woman who stole $75,000 from Medicaid was sentenced Friday to a week in jail, the state attorney general’s office said.

Sonia Ponce, 57, pleaded guilty in March to third-degree forgery and petty larceny, both misdemeanors.

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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.