It’s easy to think that the fraudulent heist of a few thousand dollars in government benefits is not a big deal. But, when there are thousands of people capitalizing on benefits they don’t deserve, it all adds up to more than you think. An article posted on WAFB.com details the convictions of 11 Louisiana residents who tried to scam the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) of more than $81,000 in government benefits.
The story goes into detail about the fraudsters who attempted to defraud the two government programs through a variety of ways, including: misrepresenting household income; concealing the presence of a spouse and their earnings; underreporting or misrepresenting income; falsifying wage verification forms; and, concealing employment. (One defendant used the identity of another person to receive SNAP benefits, while another misrepresented his household composition, stating that his wife was actually his sister. Now that’s pretty creative.)
Punishment for the crimes ranged from six months to nine months of unsupervised probation to one to five years of supervised probation. Other penalties included paying fines, fees, court costs, as well as full restitution to the two government programs.
All of the fraudsters were disqualified from participating in the program from which they were convicted of illegally gaining benefits for at least 12 months. (This is normal procedure for first-time offenders.) Second-time offenders are routinely suspended for 24 months and per federal regulations, while third-time offenders are permanently disqualified from the program. (This seems lenient. Why not just ban after the first offense?)
These 11 convictions show how serious the government is about protecting American taxpayers and the benefits programs that are intended to serve those people who need it the most. Great strides have been made toward identifying suspicious activity and tracking down those criminals who are bent on lining their pockets with benefits they don’t deserve. (The message is loud and clear to anyone thinking about stealing from the government – you will be caught.)