Too Close for Comfort

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It’s very expensive to live in New York City. In fact, the average rent for a one bedroom apartment in Queens costs $2,087. Keep in mind, the average size of a one-bedroom apartment is a whopping 700 square feet. Today’s fraudster from Queens committed Medicaid fraud by lying on her application form about her living arrangements. She claimed she shared a one-bedroom apartment with her husband and four children. (That sounds too close for comfort, considering it takes about 400 square feet per person to live comfortably.)

The woman from Queens attempted to collect welfare benefits even though her husband was the co-owner of a real estate development and holdings company. (He had a very nice salary – about a quarter of a million dollars per year.) She neglected to report her husband’s earnings on her Medicaid application and consequently collected $67,000 in Medicaid benefits.

You might find it of interest that while he was not implicated, the woman’s husband was one of 11 individuals and two companies that were indicted on charges for stealing homes from elderly and sick homeowners in New York City. (Did the co-owner really not know what was going on in his own company?)

An investigation revealed that over three years, the deceptive woman filed falsified documents stating she lived in a one-bedroom basement apartment with five other family members. She also claimed to have total household expenses of $650 a month. (Somehow, the numbers just don’t add up. Those monthly expenses seem pretty low for a family of six.)

The woman, who hid her husband’s $200,000 to $225,000 annual salary, also owned a rental building in Flushing, New York. (That was a pretty important fact to list on the Medicaid application.) The wealthy woman stole money from the nation’s most vulnerable citizens while she was actually making a lot of money and claiming she was poverty stricken.

The 37-year-old Queens woman pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud for stealing more than $67,000 in tax-payer funded healthcare benefits meant to help those in financial need. Although she originally faced 15 years behind bars, she has already paid $67,000 in restitution to the city and owes a $1,000 fine. (I bet the thought of going to jail was too close for comfort despite the fact that her falsified Medicaid applications indicated she was already accustomed to tight spaces.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Rich NYC Woman Admits Stealing $67,000 in Welfare Benefits by Hiding Husband’s $250,000 Annual Income, Claiming her Family of Five Lived in One-Bedroom Home: Prosecutors,” posted on NBCNewYork.com on June 26, 2018.

A wealthy Queens woman has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $67,000 in welfare benefits by concealing annual household income nearing a quarter of a million dollars earned mostly by her husband, who is under separate indictment in a real estate fraud scheme, prosecutors say.

Galit Levi, 37, pleaded guilty to fifth-degree welfare fraud Tuesday and paid $67,000 restitution to the New York City Human Resources Administration as part of the plea. She also faces a $1,000 fine.

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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.