Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

May 3, 2013

Welfare fraud lonely job

ONE-WOMAN UNIT: County fights welfare fraud with fewer people.

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — There is an upward trend in abuse. In 2012, there was a total savings of $392,981 according to the sheriff department records. That money may not be recouped, but it is no longer going out to offenders.

Suspects may lie about Medicaid, who is living in their house and their identity. They may sell food stamps, work off the books or collect in two counties. Usual charges are grand larceny, welfare fraud and offering to file a false instrument — that is signing something you know is false.

Services providable by Department of Social Services are all investigable. The fraud unit works with the district attorneys office and the Department of Agriculture. Arrests are going up because cases are going up. Sometimes there are no arrests, but the perpetrator is stopped.

“We don’t look at it like we’re trying to knock people off the services. People need them,” said Neubaurer. “My family got them when I was growing up. It’s a matter of accountability. Any system has the potential for fraud.”

She added, “It’s not a question of working the system. Social Security is great about informing the people of everything they’re entitled to do, how to get it and assisting them with everything they need. The goal is not to hinder people getting benefits and kick everyboyd off. We investigate, like any other  sphere of law enforcement. It’s our job to investigate anything that might be going on that’s inappropriate.” 

Neubauer thinks the department would  be well served with another investigator. There would be cost savings on things going out and actual recovery.

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