September 24, 2013
MANGANO UNCOVERS $362,000
IN WELFARE FRAUD, WASTE AND ABUSE
$3.4 Million in Criminal Fraud Detected and 98 Cases Referred
To District Attorney for Prosecution Since 2011
Mineola, NY - Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano announced today that the Nassau County Department of Social Services Office of Investigations continues to find individuals attempting to defraud Nassau County taxpayers, most recently discovering elaborate schemes to cheat the system out of $362,000. $1.25 Million in criminal welfare fraud has been uncovered in 2013, and $3.4 million since 2011. In addition, the overall cost avoidance total since 2011 for all public welfare fraud investigations has now reached $51 million.
Some highlights of the 13 new cases referred for prosecution are:
- A 60-year-old North Shore man lied to DSS on his Medicaid application and re-certifications for 5 years in order to illegally qualify for $63,286 in medical benefits for him and his wife. Based on a referral from the NYS Office of the Medicaid Inspector General, the DSS investigation revealed that, despite reporting on his application that he was employed at a NYC auto repair shop earning $225.00 per week, he is actually the CEO/owner/operator of that shop. Income derived from this business allowed him to afford a $430,000 home in Nassau County, property overseas and four luxury cars.
This case represents a growing and alarming trend of welfare recipients and applicants who are small business owners but unlawfully report to DSS that they are merely employees drawing a modest salary from the businesses which they operate.
- A 40-year-old Nassau woman illegally collected $57,566 worth of Medicaid benefits when she failed to report to DSS a change of address and rental income. After receiving an anonymous tip via the DSS online fraud reporting system (TIPS@nassaucountyny.gov), investigators discovered that the woman changed her residence in 2008 but failed to report this move to DSS. Furthermore, since that time the woman and her husband have been renting out individual rooms in their apartment for a total of $2,700 in monthly rental income which was also not reported to DSS.
- A 36-year-old mid-Nassau woman submitted letters written by a dead man in order to illegally collect $39,826 in Day Care and SNAP (food stamps) benefits. The DSS investigation revealed that the woman submitted the letters, purportedly written by the father of her three children indicating that he was helping to support the family through $100 monthly child support payments, in order to answer questions from DSS about how she met her monthly expenses (questions about household expenses are a routine part of the eligibility determination process). However, investigators learned that the man died in 2011 but the woman continued to submit the letters after his death. Ultimately, the woman admitted to DSS investigators that not only were the child support letters forged but, as a result of the father’s death she has been receiving $666.00 monthly Social Security Survivor’s benefits on behalf of each of her three children and failed to disclose this income to DSS for two years. This case is part of a comprehensive crackdown on Day Care fraud initiated by DSS which includes unprecedented cooperation between the DSS Day Care Unit and the Office of Investigations and two grants totaling $136,000 awarded to DSS by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services. Since April 2011, this initiative has resulted in $4,280,750 in cost avoidance savings including 24 cases of criminal fraud referred to the Nassau County District Attorney’s office.
All 13 cases have been referred to the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office for criminal fraud prosecution, including full restitution. So far in 2013, 45 cases of fraud, waste and abuse totaling more than $1,251,000 have been referred for prosecution this year, and a total of 98 referred cases since 2011.
County Executive Mangano stated that “no one should question the determination of my administration to root out and refer for prosecution anyone who attempts to cheat our taxpayers through Medicaid fraud. What makes these cases especially troublesome is that there is no concern for stealing money that belongs to the neediest of our residents and taxpayers.”
DSS Commissioner Dr. John Imhof stated that “anyone who tries to cheat the system in Nassau County through falsification of documentation or willful withholding of information will be uncovered by our Special Investigations Unit and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
DSS Director of Investigations Scott Skrynecki added, “Our seasoned investigators have access to a wide variety of sophisticated technological resources to make sure that only those residents who truly qualify for benefits will receive them.”
To report questionable practices in programs such as Medicaid, Day Care, SNAP (Food Stamps), Public Assistance and Family Health Plus, call 1-877-711-TIPS (8477) or send an email to TIPS@nassaucountyny.gov.
All calls and emails are completely confidential and callers can remain anonymous.