The El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency reports that a team effort with the District Attorney’s Office to combat welfare fraud resulted in the referral of more than 200 cases and recovery of more than $340,000 last year.
“We take fraud seriously,” Patty Moley, program manager of income maintenance and employment services, said in a written statement. “Our job is to make sure that people who need and qualify for benefits receive them. But it is also our responsibility to look for false information and potential fraud situations.”
Suspected fraud cases are referred to the District Attorney’s Office to be investigated. Investigators go to the client’s home and/or employer to verify information and collect any needed documents. The information is reviewed and, if warranted, the fraud case is formally prosecuted, officials said.
Those found guilty of welfare fraud can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, and are required to to pay back money fraudulently obtained. They are also assessed an intentional program violation, meaning that they cannot obtain benefits for a period of six months to a lifetime, depending on the severity of the case, prior violations and the type of benefit received.
“Our community has aid, assistance and funds to help people in need, but for those who intentionally steal, abuse or fraudulently obtain public funds, they will face prosecution,” District Attorney Vern Pierson said in written statement.
Suspected welfare fraud may be reported to the Health and Human Services Agency’s Program Integrity Unit by calling (530) 642-7300
Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.