The Cost of Omission

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Just as an act of commission can result in harm, an act of omission can do the same. For example, if you pull out in front of a vehicle travelling at a high rate of speed, you are likely to cause an accident for which you are liable. (This is an act of commission.) On the other hand, if you neglect to include a key piece of information on an application for government benefits, you could be in big trouble with Uncle Sam. (This is an act of omission.) A press release from the Federal Bureau of Investigation details the case of a Concord woman, who omitted her husband’s annual income from multiple government benefit applications and consequently, received more than $250,000 in financial assistance from four different government programs.

The press release states that the 54-year-old falsely reported that her husband was not living in her household and did not contribute any income. What she omitted was that her husband was indeed living in her home and had an annual salary that ranged from $69,500 to $89,000. (That’s a pretty big omission.) She omitted this key information from her applications to the Social Security Administration’s Supplemental Income program, the United States Department of Housing the Urban Development’s Section 8 Housing program, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Stamp program and the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Financial Assistance to Needy Families and Aid to Permanently Disabled Persons programs. (I guess she figured if she could dupe one program, why not try more?)

One thing that the fraudster did not omit in court was her guilty plea. She ‘fessed up and is now facing up to 10 years in prison, plus a fine up to $250,000. Perhaps next time, she’ll fill in the blank with the correct and honest answer, instead of paying a high cost for omission because she didn’t do the right thing in the first place.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on a press release titled, ”Concord Resident Pleads Guilty to Multiple Fraud Charges,” released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on October 17, 2013.

CONCORD, NH—Betty Dugan, 54, of Concord, New Hampshire, has pled guilty in United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire to charges that she knowingly used false information to obtain benefits from government programs that are solely intended to provide financial assistance to impoverished individuals and families, announced United States Attorney John P. Kacavas.

From January 2003 to April 2012, Dugan received benefits totaling more than $250,000 from the Social Security Administration’s Supplemental Income program, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 Housing program, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Stamp program, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Financial Assistance to Needy Families and Aid to Permanently Disabled Persons programs.

 

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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.