Generosity

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Generosity is a characteristic that is not usually associated with fraudsters unless they are on the receiving end of a windfall. (They tend to be very generous with themselves, making sure they collect as much money as possible.) Today’s fraudster from Williamsport, Pennsylvania was the beneficiary of a generous man who paid her to take care of him. During the same time, she was also collecting government benefits. She committed food stamp fraud when she lied on her application to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), stating that she had no earned income during the time her generous employer was paying her about $600 a week.

The Williamsport woman did originally qualify to receive food stamps in 2012.  However, about two years later, she became a paid caregiver for a man who has since died. In mid-July of 2015, the woman signed an application to renew her food stamp benefits. She signed her name on the form verifying she did not have a job. (If she had reported the change in employment status or the approximate $2,400 a month she received, she would have been ineligible to receive the food stamp benefits.) Over 20 months, the Pennsylvania woman received $12,500 in food stamps.

In the woman’s defense, her attorney explained that his client was not trying to “game” the system. During the time that the woman was receiving food stamp benefits and providing care to her client, she was also taking care of two children and a grandchild. The article says she truly did not think her income exceeded eligibility requirements. (Maybe she didn’t read the fine print, or she was really bad at math.)

In 2016, the Williamsport woman was indicted on a charge of obtaining property from a vulnerable adult between $10,000 and $100,000. While the woman received three checks totaling nearly $40,000 over two months in 2015, she was not found guilty during her 2017 bench trial. (Apparently, the man was generous to a fault as he also made loans to other caregivers. Lucky for her, she was off the hook.)

In a very generous move, the judge dismissed the Williamsport fraud charges as part of the woman’s plea agreement. She received a five-year suspended sentence for food stamp fraud. (That’s so she could pay back the money she illegally collected.) Let’s hope she pays the generosity forward as well as her restitution.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, “Williamsport woman pleads guilty to food stamp fraud,” published by Herald-Mail Media on March 29, 2019.  

A Williamsport woman found not guilty in 2017 of exploiting a vulnerable adult for money pleaded guilty Thursday to fraudulently obtaining food stamps by claiming no income during the same period.

Washington County Circuit Judge Dana Moylan Wright gave Shannon M. Miller a five-year suspended sentence after she pleaded guilty to filing a false application for public assistance.

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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.