Good, Bad and Ugly

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The good thing about welfare is that a variety of programs exist to help disadvantaged individuals who live under a minimum accepted level of income. (Benefits can include child care, utilities, food, medical or vocational rehabilitation services just to name a few.) The bad thing about welfare, which is administered at a state level, is that there are many fraudsters who know how to ”work the system” to receive benefits for which they are not eligible. An article published in the News Leader follows a Virginia woman who was personally receiving support from multiple state welfare programs, while also operating a day care center. (You can’t receive state welfare benefits if you are earning an income above the minimum accepted level to qualify for support.)

The story states that the former day care owner received food stamps and Medicaid benefits before, as well as after opening her child care center. The woman falsified records for children who were not present at the day care center on the dates claimed and forged parents’ signatures without their knowledge. She was able to collect more than $9,700 from the state’s social services fund and more than $13,500 from the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Fund (SNAP) and Medicaid.

The 30-year-old woman pleaded guilty to 10 counts of welfare fraud and five counts of obtaining money by false pretenses. She faces a combined 300 years in prison. (Obviously, that is the worst case scenario.)

There is always a good side and a bad side to every situation; however, in this case the ugly truth is that this woman stole money from disadvantaged individuals who rightly qualified for assistance. Even though it seems to be hard to keep ahead of unscrupulous individuals who are constantly seeking to defraud, this case shows the commitment of government to track down and prosecute individuals who are only out for themselves.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Stuarts Draft Day Care Owner Convicted of Fraud,” written by Brad Zinn and published by the News Leader on March 13, 2015.

STAUNTON — The former owner of the now-closed Lil Angels Learning Center in Stuarts Draft pleaded guilty Friday to fraud and larceny charges totaling more than $20,000.

Stephanie Wood, 30, of Faber, was convicted in Augusta County Circuit Court on 10 counts of welfare fraud and five counts of obtaining money by false pretenses.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.