Connecticut Employees under Investigation for Food Stamp Fraud

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When Hurricane Irene hit last year, it took its toll on a number of states on the Eastern seaboard. But few could anticipate that its impact would linger so long in Connecticut, where a government investigation into possible disaster aid fraud has placed several state employees at the center of a debate on fraud and abuse in the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP).

According to a report from The New Haven Register, approximately 800 state employees filed for federal D-SNAP assistance made available for disaster relief following Hurricane Irene. Thirty-four are now being investigated for allegedly providing fraudulent information to receive the disaster SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps. The article notes that the governor has indicated that most of the employees connected with the case allegedly ”applied for the supplemental food aid program” but he added that ”some may have understated income levels or overstated the number of dependents in order to obtain the full benefits.” (You mean they lied!)

A defense attorney for multiple state employees currently under investigation has countered that the application is too complicated. He referenced ”news reports from early this year, which said that the rate of inaccurate food stamp benefit payments was amount the worst in the country” and has set up a website, www.TakeTheDSNAPChallenge.com, to prove it. He is asking the public to try to complete the D-SNAP application and says? ”’As you will find, it is impossible to complete the form accurately without inquiring of a DSS worker.”’

Who are the state workers under investigation? The story says that Connecticut’s governor ”confirmed that some were ‘high-wage earners,’ pulling in annual salaries that may exceed $100,000. (Making $100K and still on food stamps. Love the attorney claiming the system is confusing. What’s next? His clients couldn’t read or the dog ate their application?)

How will this play out? We don’t know yet, but one thing is for certain? states need to do a better job of identifying the red flags for fraud and/or improper benefit payments across the board – BEFORE they send the checks.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”10 more Connecticut employees under investigation for food stamp fraud,” by Jordan Fenster published by the New Haven Register, December 15, 2011.

HARTFORD — The list of state employees being investigated for food stamp fraud continues to grow as on Thursday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced 10 more employees are now under investigation, bringing the total number to 34.

”While I’m dismayed that the number of cases of possible fraud continues to climb, I am in no way deterred from moving forward with this investigation as quickly and thoroughly as possible,” Malloy said. ”The residents of Connecticut deserve to know that their government will not stand for fraud or abuse of taxpayer dollars, a point that should carry even greater weight when we’re talking about state employees.”

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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.