When the Left Hand Doesn’t Know What the Right Hand is Doing

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6752086 - filling the unemployment insurance application form isolated in blue

In some situations where there are numerous people working together, it is hard to know what each person is doing to accomplish a shared goal. (Lack of transparency can leave room for lots of dysfunction.) But, in situations where there are smaller numbers of individuals involved, there is usually more transparency. So, this line of thinking would lead you to believe that in a marital situation, where there are only two people involved, one spouse would have a general idea as to what the other spouse was up to. Not so for a couple from Clearwater, Minnesota who ended up committing unemployment fraud by filing for undeserved benefits. (The left hand did not appear to know what the right hand was doing.)

The wife was an employee of the state agency that handles unemployment claims. She used her position to access her husband’s account and request unemployment benefits. (There was just one problem, he was gainfully employed.)

The woman was working at an Unemployment Insurance Call Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota at the time and was proficient at using the system to assist customers with unemployment claims. According to court records, the wife submitted requests for $5,400 in unemployment benefits over a period of nine months between 2015 and 2016 through her husband’s account.

Further research revealed that the husband told investigators he had no idea why she would request unemployment benefits on his behalf when she knew he was working. (Let me give you a hint, buddy. It’s plain and simple – just pure unadulterated greed.)

The 37-year-old Clearwater, Minnesota woman was charged on two counts of theft-by swindle, but, agreed to an Alford plea on an amended charge of gross misdemeanor unemployment benefits fraud – false representation/concealment of fact. Through an Alford plea, a defendant maintains their innocence, but admits there is enough evidence to prove they are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. (Oh, for crying out loud she did the illegal deed, but o.k., we’ll take an Alford plea if we must.) The wife must pay restitution of more than $5,000, serve two years of probation and provide 80 hours of community service for using her position at the unemployment agency to collect undeserved benefits on her husband’s behalf.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development verified that the swindler no longer works for the unemployment agency. (What would be ironic is if the state would revoke the fraudster’s right to receive unemployment benefits in the future. I have a feeling that she will have a tough time finding a new job due to her new conviction record.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Unemployment Worker Sentenced For Illegally Taking Benefits,” posted on WJON.com on August 16, 2018

CLOUD — A Clearwater woman must pay more than $5,000 in restitution, be on probation for two years and provide 80 hours of community service for illegally collecting unemployment benefits for her husband while she worked for a state agency that handles unemployment claims.

Thirty-seven-year-old Kati Werner was charged with two counts of theft-by swindle, but she agreed to an Alford plea on an amended charge of gross misdemeanor unemployment benefits fraud – false representation/concealment of fact. An Alford plea is where a defendant maintains they’re innocent of the crime, but admits the prosecution has enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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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.