What Is Welfare Fraud?
This is a crime where the welfare recipient intentionally gives false information to a social services office about the income of the home, the number of people living in the home or other aspects that are used to determine eligibility in order to get more money from the state. There has been an increased effort in trying to prosecute those who are trying to commit welfare fraud. More investigations into the amount of income and into the number of people who actually live in the home are taking place as caseworkers require proof of residence and employee records.
Not reporting added income, such as cash, or another type of assistance, such as workman’s compensation, can also be considered welfare fraud. If someone receives any kind of government assistance, then all changes must be reported. If the income goes over a certain threshold, then the family isn’t supposed to receive benefits any longer or would get the benefits reduced. When someone doesn’t declare all income that is made or any other changes, then it means the family receives the original amount with no changes. If the person reports that there are more people living in the home than there really are, then the application process would allow for more benefits even if there really aren’t that many people in the house at the time.
There are various charges that can be filed depending on the type of benefit that is received. Food stamp fraud is the most common with Medicaid fraud being at the top of the list as well. Fraud in the first degree results when the person intentionally omits information or commits another act to get more benefits and when the benefits that are received equal to about $1 million. Any kind of property received or services that are received can be included with the amount of welfare fraud used to determine the charge. Welfare fraud is usually seen as a class B felony and can be punishable by up to 25 years in prison or up to five years probation.
Examples Of Welfare Fraud
If a parent completes an application and declares that there are children living in the home on a full-time basis when they are only there a few days during the week, then this would be fraud because the amount of the benefit would be more than what it should be for the home. Another example would be if a couple or an individual were to use numerous names in order to get benefits. This type of fraud is often seen in multiple states instead of in one state unless the applicant goes to a different county and uses a completely new type of identification. When an applicant begins working from being unemployed or gets a new job making more money and doesn’t report the change, then this could be considered fraud as there is more money in the home.
Defenses To Welfare Fraud
The prosecution has to show that the applicant intended to defraud the government in order to get more benefits. A NYC criminal attorney would then be tasked to prove that the defendant didn’t receive the amount of benefits and that the defendant didn’t knowingly provide false information. If the charges are legitimate, then the attorney would work to get the sentence reduced or the charges reduced to second or third degree.
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