The House Always Wins


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Sometimes when you roll the dice to commit a crime, you get snake eyes. Today’s fraudster got a bad roll when she tried to get away with stealing $117,524 from multiple government benefits programs. (She ended up with a losing hand. The government went after her to recover each and every stolen dollar.)

According to a story in the Telegram & Gazette, a Massachusetts woman illegally collected benefits through the Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program over the course of eight years and USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for four years. The woman claimed that she did not live with her husband and, therefore did not receive any financial assistance from him to support their children. (Spin the wheel for lie number one – in reality, her husband regularly gave her a stipend for household expenses.) The next thing she did was buy a home with her husband using a government subsidized loan. (Did they think that the government wasn’t already financing them enough?) Then, she listed their new address on her driver’s license and joint tax return. (Bingo!)

At her sentencing, the 46-year-old fraudster was facing up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine and restitution. The sentence she received was three years of probation plus restitution of $117,524. (If you ask me, she’s getting off pretty easy for not knowing when to fold ’em.)

The real kicker to the tale is that this New Englander used her government benefits to gamble at a casino in Connecticut. (You can be sure that she didn’t bet on getting caught.) The lesson learned here is that it you’re going to gamble away your money, don’t do it on the government’s dime.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Gardner woman gets probation for benefits fraud,” written by Craig S. Semon and published by the Telegram & Gazette on December 9, 2015.

WORCESTER – A Gardner woman was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court for fraudulently receiving more than $100,000 in public benefits.

Heidi Narcisse, 46, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Hillman to 3 years of probation and ordered to pay $117,524 in restitution. Ms. Narcisse pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of public money in September. She could have faced up to 10 years in prison, 3 years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and restitution, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Ms. Narcisse began collecting Social Security Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, disability benefits in 1999 and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits in 2011. In order to be eligible for these benefits, a person must have very limited income and financial resources; furthermore, income provided by a spouse can make a person ineligible for benefits. In order to receive these benefits, Ms. Narcisse repeatedly and falsely stated that she was separated from her husband, lived alone with her children and had no outside support.

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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.