Mass. Auditor Investigates Public Assistance Fraud

Massachusetts’ State Auditor says her office has identified more than 5-million dollars in public assistance fraud during the recently concluded fiscal year. New England Public Radio’s Adam Frenier reports.

 

During the final quarter of the fiscal year, which ended July 31st, the Auditor’s Office identified more than 500 cases of alleged fraud through investigation. These include people receiving benefits such as food stamps, cash assistance or health care which they are not eligible for or no longer eligible for. State Auditor Suzanne Bump says public assistance fraud doesn’t stop there.

“In several instances, we had folks who were claiming to be rendering services to disabled people, when in fact, those disabled people had already passed away.”

Consequences for those trying to swindle the Commonwealth depend on the severity of the offense. They could face criminal prosecution or be ordered to make restitution. Bump says in recent years, her office has been given more tools to to detect and settle such cases.

“We have been able to make some strides in this area by getting the ability from the courts to prosecute these cases ourselves. The Legislature has given us more tools to do more, what we call, data analytics, data mining so that we can identify patterns and we can become proactive.”

And Bump adds her office also receives tips from the public about those who may be committing fraudulent acts. The Auditor’s report comes shortly after the state passed a law that would enact stricter penalties for food stamp trafficking and restrict what can be purchased with electronic benefits’ cards. For New England Public Radio, I’m Adam Frenier.