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Facebook and fraud don’t mix. That’s the advice that comes too late for today’s fraudster, an Indiana woman who lied about her household’s income and occupants in order to secure more than $25,000 in public assistance. An article in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel carries the results of what happened when the 36-year-old mother of four’s scheme was exposed.

The article states that from November 2011 through July 2015, the woman applied for and received food stamp benefits, claiming that she cared for her four children in her home without income from another adult. (When our parents told us to apply ourselves, this isn’t what they had in mind.) But during that time, the woman’s 17-year-old daughter was living with the teen’s biological father while she herself was sharing her home with the father of her three other children (who turns out to be the husband she was trying to hide in plain sight.) If she had properly reported the income from his job on her applications for food stamps, the family would not have been eligible for the benefits.

In addition to checking on the family’s living situation by talking to neighbors and by checking a social media source, investigators used tax records and motor vehicle records to determine the couple’s married status. (Details, details…)

The woman was sentenced to serve four years on probation for welfare fraud, a Class C felony, and two years on probation for welfare fraud, a Level 6 felony. She will be allowed to serve the terms concurrently. The judge in the case also ordered the mom to get a full-time job so she could pay the $25,217 she owes. (When she balked about needing to take care of her kids, the judge offered her time in prison while someone else took care of them.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on, ”Woman gets probation in welfare fraud case,” written by Sheryl Krieg and published by the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel on April 22, 2016.

Nicole R. Griffiths, 36, was sentenced to serve four years on probation for welfare fraud, a Class C felony, and two years on probation for welfare fraud, a Level 6 felony. The terms will be served concurrently.

Griffiths received public assistance food stamp benefits worth $17,935 from Nov. 1, 2011, through June 30, 2014, according to a probable-cause affidavit. She also received public assistance food stamp benefits worth $7,282 from July 2014 through July 2015.

The affidavit states Griffiths did not state her correct household composition and income on her applications for public assistance, as her 17-year-old daughter lived primarily with the teen’s biological father, and the father of Griffith’s remaining three children lived in the residence and worked while not reporting his income on the applications.

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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.