Engineering Illegal Benefits

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36197500 - frustrated young business man working on laptop computer at office

In general, engineers develop solutions for technical problems. Their job is to make things better, not cause more problems. The New Hampshire Union Leader tells the story of a man who tried to engineer a scheme to steal one month’s worth of unemployment insurance by being dishonest about his employment record.

Sometimes applicants can become confused by questions on the paperwork required for government benefits. And then there are those applicants who willfully misconstrue their information in order to receive money they do not deserve. According to the story, the man filed four separate claims for unemployment insurance in one month. All the while, he was employed as a facilities engineer by a construction company. On his weekly unemployment applications, the engineer was asked whether he performed any services, including self-employment in the previous week, regardless of whether or not he was paid for his work. He answered ”no” four weeks in a row. (I wonder if that means he was clocking into work and not actually doing anything.) As a result, this New Hampshire man illegally received $2,135 in unemployment benefits.

The conniving construction company employee didn’t get away with his ruse for long. He ended up pleading guilty to unemployment compensation fraud and was sentenced to nine months in jail with all but four days suspended. (He got lucky that he only had to serve one day for every week of unemployment compensation received.

In addition to the four days in jail, the man must repay the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security (DES) $1,708 in restitution, plus a penalty of $341.60 for the criminal complaint. He also has to pay another $427 plus a penalty of $85.40 for committing civil fraud. The judge also threw in 40 hours of community service, mandatory attendance at a DES benefit rights interview and he must undergo whatever counseling, treatment and education programs correctional authorities deem appropriate. (Thankfully, this criminal is banned from receiving unemployment benefits for a year. How about a ban forever?)

While this man was working as a facilities engineer when he constructed a conspiracy to enrich himself using a program that many jobless Americans use as a lifeline, his plan ultimately failed within a month. Kudos to the New Hampshire Department of Justice for catching and successfully convicting this criminal. It looks like this engineer will have to go back to the drawing board. Hopefully, through his short jail stint, restitution repayments, community service and the programs he will be required to complete, this man will learn a valuable lesson. (Would-be unemployment benefits fraudsters can learn from this too. Instead of stealing from taxpayers, direct your efforts toward engineering a legal paycheck.)

 

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Sandown man pleads guilty to unemployment compensation fraud,” written by Staff and published by the New Hampshire Union Leader on January 6, 2016.

BRENTWOOD — A Sandown man was ordered to repay the state Department of Employment Security more than $2,500 after he pleaded guilty Tuesday to unemployment compensation fraud.

Jason O’Callaghan, 39, of 53 Montana Drive, also was sentenced in Rockingham County Superior Court to nine months in jail, with all but four days suspended.

According to DES Commissioner George Copadis and Attorney General Joseph A. Foster, O’Callaghan filed four unemployment claims between March 1 and 31, 2015, when he was employed as a facilities engineer for Structure Consulting Group of Arlington, Mass., a company that manages commercial construction sites and provides maintenance services.

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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.