Well That’s Not Fair

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Some things in life aren’t fair. If all was fair in love and war, the world would likely be full of fraudsters. To reinforce a sense of fairness, the U.S. government strives to remove fraudsters from programs that are intended to provide assistance to those who are in need, fairly. According to a Bangor Daily News article, one Maine resident takes the fairness out of welfare, receiving what I like to call ”Well that’s Not Fair” benefits.

There’s no shame in borrowing a few bucks when you really need it. There is much shame to be found stealing $25,000 in government benefits for which you were not qualified. The fraudster was convicted of aggravated forgery and theft by deception, receiving a sentencing of five months in prison to be followed by two years of probation, as well as repayment to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services in the amount of $24,788. (To be fair, it is protocol to return what you’ve taken.) The question burning a hole through my pocket: how did she deceive the state funded benefits program, receiving nearly $25,000?

Investigators discovered that the scam was conducted over a four-year period, targeting the federal and Maine departments of Health and Human Services, specifically Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Additional Support for People in Retraining and Employment programs. According to the article, the fraudster ”suggested” to the programs that she did not receive child support, the biological father was not in the children’s lives and she worked at an auto shop. As investigators dug deeper, they found she forged notes from the bookkeeper of the auto shop owner she claimed to work for indicating an hourly rate. And, she failed to disclose she was receiving child support. In addition, she applied for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, claiming again she did not receive child support. (She needs to get her story straight.) The crackdown is part of the state’s efforts to put an end to fraudulent behavior.

She may be heading to jail saying, ”That’s not fair, judge.’? But, that’s what happens when you turn welfare benefits into your own personal ATM.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Livermore Woman Pleads Guilty to Welfare Fraud and Theft,” written by Chris Williams and published by the Bangor Daily News on June 3, 2013.

AUBURN, Maine — A Livermore woman who stole nearly $25,000 in state welfare benefits pleaded guilty Monday to nearly a dozen felony charges and is expected to spend five months in jail.

Tiki L. Thomas, 35, of 735 River Road pleaded guilty to 10 counts of aggravated forgery and one count of theft by deception. Each count was punishable by up to 10 years in prison. She also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

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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.