For Immediate Release - January 18, 2013

State Auditor’s Office Identifies Over $1.3 Million In Public Assistance Fraud

Boston, MA - In a quarterly progress report issued today, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump said examiners with the office’s Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI) found evidence of $1,334,019 in fraudulently obtained public assistance benefits and services.

Auditor Bump said BSI examiners completed 1,769 investigations in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013, identifying 246 people defrauding the state out of food stamps, health care benefits, public housing or cash assistance.

“Our investigations into public benefit fraud ensure that a social safety net is in place for those who truly need it,” said Auditor Bump. “These programs protect families and our economy’s workforce.”

With a budget of $1.8 million, BSI identified $5,542,310 in fraudulent claims in fiscal 2012. In the same year, the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) administered more than $1.7 billion in total benefits and MassHealth paid more than $11 billion to healthcare providers. 

BSI examiners work with DTA, MassHealth, the Attorney General’s Office and other government agencies to document illegal activity.  Completed BSI investigations lead to both prosecution and recovery of funds.  In the first quarter, BSI investigations resulted in three court convictions and the recovery of $164,248 by DTA.

"This shows that our program integrity system is working," said DTA Commissioner Daniel Curley. "Working in partnership with the Auditor, we are recovering money for taxpayers and ensuring that benefits are being used as intended to help people meet their basic needs."

The report highlights a case which led to criminal charges.  Aenise Wyatt, of Lynn, defrauded the Commonwealth of $41,892 in food stamp, cash assistance, and MassHealth benefits by intentionally hiding the fact she was living with the father of her son, who was gainfully employed and eligible for family insurance.  Wyatt continued her scheme for over six years.  In addition, Wyatt’s charges include defrauding the Social Security Administration of $15,508. 

While the majority of allegations of public assistance fraud come from MassHealth and DTA, the public can also file a complaint through the BSI fraud hotline at (617) 727-6771 or by sending an email to infoline@sao.state.ma.us.  All complaints are kept confidential.

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