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Boston — 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 $1,827,217 in fraudulently obtained public assistance benefits and services.
Auditor Bump said BSI examiners completed 963 investigations, identifying 401 people defrauding the state out of welfare, food stamps, childcare services, health care benefits, public housing or cash assistance.
“In today’s economic climate, with so many struggling to get by, it is more important than ever to make sure every dollar given in benefits goes to those who are actually in need,” said Auditor Bump. “BSI oversight identifies millions of dollars in fraud every year.”
Within the current fiscal year BSI received 1,824 complaints of suspected fraud and found $2,736,058 in fraudulent claims.
BSI examiners work with dozens of state agencies to document illegal activity. When cases are completed BSI seeks criminal prosecution and refers cases to the appropriate public benefit or law enforcement agency to recoup fraudulently obtained funds.
The report highlights two cases that have lead to criminal charges. One case involves a Boston man, Thomas Carter, who used two identities to collect two sets of public benefits. Additionally, the Office of Housing and Urban Development has been investigating Cater for collecting housing vouchers under his two identities.
The other case involves a scheme among three Brockton residents, Tiberio Massaro, Jennifer Massaro and Maria Gomes, who were abusing MassHealth’s Personal Care Attendant (PCA) program. Tiberio Massaro was authorized by MassHealth to receive PCA services, but BSI examiners found that the PCAs he hired, Jennifer Massaro (sister-in-law of Tiberio) and Maria Gomes, were not providing the $106,556 worth of services that MassHealth was paying them to perform. The indictments of the three Brockton individuals were the result of a joint investigation involving the Attorney General’s Office and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
Last week, two cases were adjudicated in the Boston Municipal Court. As a result of a BSI investigation, an Athol woman, Kathleen Brower, pled guilty to fraudulently collecting $58,170 in food assistance from the Supplemental Nutritional Program (SNAP) and Supplemental Security Income. Brower was placed on probation for three years and ordered to pay full restitution. Another man, Bruce Galloway of Boston, pled guilty to felony larceny after a BSI investigation uncovered him illegally selling his food stamps for cash. Galloway was placed on probation for two and a half years and ordered to pay full restitution.
While the majority of allegations of public assistance fraud come from MassHealth and the Department of Transitional Assistance, the public can also file a complaint through the BSI fraud hotline at (617) 727-6771 or by sending an email to email@example.com. All complaints are kept confidential.
The Bureau of Special Investigations Third Quarter Report for FY 2012 is available here.