Are You Kidding Me?

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In Kansas, the average cost to place an infant in a child care center per year is $10,955. Compare that to $9,227 – the annual cost for public college tuition. (Are you kidding me? You shouldn’t have to take a second mortgage out on your home to send your kid to daycare.) Fortunately, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) helps low-income families pay for quality early childhood education through their Child Care Subsidy Program. A Wichita, Kansas day care provider committed child care fraud by lying about the number of children enrolled in her center so she could pocket those public funds for her own use.

The day care operator owned two Kiddy Kollege day care centers in the Wichita area. The day care owner and five other women claimed that their children were enrolled at Kiddy Kollege. They also applied for and received child care benefits from the state, so their children could attend the day care center. (There was just one problem and I bet you know what it is. The kids – if they even existed – were not attending Kiddy Kollege as claimed.) The false claimants received money from DCF to pay the bogus bills.

In all, the six women involved in today’s child care fraud case defrauded the State of Kansas out of more than $52,000 in child care benefits they did not deserve. Court records show that the women split the money amongst themselves.

The 29-year-old enterprising fraudster got lucky with the judge who handed down a probation sentence. Over five years, the fraudster has to pay at least $7,200 in restitution until she pays off a total of $36,000. (If she can’t meet those terms, she will be sent to prison for five months.)

Three of her co-conspirators pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft for their part in the child care fraud case, while two others were granted a diversion. (That means that they have agreed to participate in a rehabilitation program that will help to remedy the behavior that caused them to get convicted.) All five will have to pay restitution of varying amounts that add up to $16,344.04.

You don’t need a high IQ to recognize that early childhood education care can help build a solid foundation for underprivileged children to have long-term future success. Let’s hope that today’s fraudsters have learned a basic life lesson from this unfortunate experience – one that any preschooler should know: if you steal from others, you have to give what you have stolen back. (And, it wouldn’t hurt to have a heart-felt apology as well.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Wichita day care owner sentenced for welfare fraud that cost state more than $50,000,” posted on Kansas.com on May 31, 2018.

A Wichita day care owner who lied about attendance in order to defraud the state out of more than $52,000 in child care benefits is on probation.

Sedgwick County District Court Judge Stephen Ternes on Wednesday ordered Erika Tomlin of Wichita to be on probation for up to five years while she works on repaying $36,000 of the money, according to a news release from the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office. She has to hand over at least $7,200 in restitution each year — or risk being sent to prison for five months.

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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.