The Numbers Don’t Add Up

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Back view of mother walking down the street with a little son with a backpack on summer day

Child daycare providers not only take care of the basic needs of children while their parents or guardians are at work, they also read to them, teach them the alphabet and simple math, and make sure they get some playtime. (As a parent, it’s a relief to know that your child is being cared for and learning something valuable while you are working.)

The husband and wife owners of two daycare centers in Omaha, Nebraska were recently convicted of child care fraud for playing around with federal money they didn’t deserve. They submitted fraudulent claims to receive reimbursement payments through the Child Care and Development Fund program (CCDF). In the end, the numbers didn’t add up and now the couple must pay a collective $143,127.26 in restitution. (The math is pretty simple here – what gets stolen from the government must be returned.)

Today’s article states that the couple’s two businesses were investigated by the Nebraska Department of Health and Humans Services along with the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services. (That can’t be good to have both agencies after you at the same time. One is bad enough.)

Investigators discovered that over 10 months, the couple submitted fake claims regarding the number of kids that attended their two daycare facilities and the hours they were present. (The amount of reimbursements received correlated with the number of kids that attended their daycare facilities. The more kids they had, the more money they received from the government.) As you might guess, the husband and wife fraudsters used the extra money on themselves.

The 32-year-old husband was sentenced to eight months in prison and will serve three years on supervised release. His 29-year-old wife received a sentence of five years on probation for her involvement in the child care fraud case. (This is a great example of how State and Federal law enforcement partners work together to stop criminals from robbing the taxpayer-funded childcare program that is so important to our nation’s most vulnerable families.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Omaha Daycare Owners Sentenced for Fraudulent Practices,” dated February 7, 2020.

United States Attorney Joe Kelly announced that Naimi Haji, 29, and her husband, Abdikadir Miji, 32, both of Omaha, Nebraska, were sentenced today in Lincoln, Nebraska, by Chief United States District Judge John M. Gerrard for theft of government property.  Miji was sentenced to 8 months in prison and will also serve 3 years on supervised release.  He is to pay $100,287.06 in restitution.  There is no parole in the federal system.  Haji will be on federal probation for 5 years and pay restitution in the amount of $42,840.20.

The Omaha couple owned Comfort Home Care and M&N Day Care Center which were licensed by the State of Nebraska as Family Child Care Home II businesses.  Haji signed contracts with the State of Nebraska to receive reimbursement payments through the Child Care and Development Fund program (CCDF) for child care expenses for eligible children pursuant to the rules and regulations of the United States and the State of Nebraska. Miji and Haji then submitted claims for the daycares for reimbursement.

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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.