You Can Defraud, But You Can’t Hide

36419152 - judge looking the condemned prisoner in the court room

Criminals are always on the run, trying to stay one step ahead of the law. A California woman who attempted to run away with more than $145,000 in welfare fraud got caught for her illegal acts and tried to hide behind a sheet of paper during her sentencing. (Who knows, maybe she thought the judge would not see her.)

What makes this crime particularly concerning is that the fraudster of the day was a former employee of the agency from which she stole benefits intended for those less fortunate. (As a counselor for a county health and human services agency in California, she victimized the very people she was supposed to assist.)

The former self-sufficiency counselor opened 18 fraudulent accounts in the names of welfare beneficiaries. Over a four-year period, she stole more than $78,000 in cash, plus $66,000 in food stamp benefits. (An investigation ensued after one of her victims reported a discrepancy in their government application for benefits.)

The 43-year-old former counselor pleaded no contest to 31 counts of embezzlement and 18 counts of welfare fraud. (One for every account she opened illegally.) She was sentenced to four years in state prison for stealing from the agency. She is required to reimburse the agency $145,071.88.

This criminal, who took advantage of her job and her victims, now finds herself at a significant disadvantage. She abused her employer and the people she was hired to represent. It’s a sure thing that the government won’t be offering her a helping hand now that she has betrayed their trust.

Source: Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on a press release entitled, Former HHSA Employee Sentenced to Prison for Embezzlement and Welfare Fraudreleased on July 11, 2017.

Today in Department 10 of the Tulare County Superior Court, Visalia Division, Judge Kathryn  Montejano sentenced Yvonne Hernandez, age 43, of Hanford, to four years in state prison for multiple financial crimes. On March 14, 2017, Hernandez pleaded guilty to 31 counts of embezzlement of public monies and 18 counts of welfare fraud.

Between July of 2009 and October 2013, Hernandez created 18 fraudulent welfare accounts while working as a Self Sufficiency Counselor at the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA). She used the benefits from the accounts for her personal gain in the amount of $145,071.88.

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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.