- Office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump
- Bureau of Special Investigations
Media Contact for State Auditor’s Office set Record Year for Identifying Public Assistance Fraud
Mike Wessler, Communications Director
Boston — In a report issued today, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump said examiners within her office’s Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI) identified more than $9.5 million in fraudulently obtained public assistance benefits and services in Fiscal Year 2014. This total represents a nearly 50 percent increase over the previous year’s record of $6.3 million and is the fourth straight year of record-breaking casework.
“Our investigations help preserve the social safety net for the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable individuals and families,” said Auditor Bump. “Just as importantly, our work should help foster public trust in these important programs. We are a force for integrity acting on behalf of the taxpayer. Our results demonstrate that fraud will not be tolerated.”
Auditor Bump said BSI examiners completed 9,538 investigations in the fiscal year, resulting in 824 cases of individuals defrauding the state of food stamps, childcare services, health care benefits, or cash assistance. Within the same fiscal year, the Commonwealth spent more than $13 billion on the application and administration of public benefits, largely within MassHealth and the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA).
“Our record setting investigative work this year does not necessarily represent a growth in fraud activity, but instead can be attributed to our increasingly vigorous approach to combating fraud. By and large, the Commonwealth’s public benefit programs work as intended” said Auditor Bump. “Year over year we are uncovering more fraud because we are getting smarter and faster. For every dollar the state invests in our work, we create the potential for $4 to be returned.”
BSI examiners work with DTA, MassHealth, the Attorney General’s Office and other government agencies to document fraudulent activity. BSI investigations lead to both prosecution and recovery of funds. Through court ordered payments and other recoveries the state recovered $1,415,435 in Fiscal Year 2014.
The report highlights a case which resulted in criminal charges. Stephen Daly, of Worcester, defrauded the Commonwealth more than $3,000 by falsely using his brother’s identity in addition to his own to collect two sets of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). After a BSI investigation, Daly pled guilty to larceny and two counts of welfare fraud. Daly was sentenced to 18 months in the House of Corrections and was ordered to pay full restitution to the Commonwealth. In his statement to the court, Daly’s brother credited BSI as the only law enforcement agency to listen to and pursue his complaint.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. All complaints are kept confidential.