TROY — May is Public Assistance Fraud Awareness Month in Ohio, and the Miami County Department of Job and Family Services is spreading the word that “Fraud Costs All of Us.”
In 2015, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services disbursed about $2.5 billion in SNAP food assistance, $259 million in Ohio Works First cash assistance and $573 million in child care subsidies.
Individuals who mislead caseworkers or lie on an application for benefits account for a very small percentage of the funding disbursed, but the department takes even the smallest fraud cases very seriously.
Fraud Awareness Month is especially significant for Miami County Department of Job and Family Services this year as it coincides with the six-month anniversary of adding a second fraud investigator to the staff. The additional fraud investigator position has given Miami County the ability to actively pursue referrals of possible fraud within the county.
Investigators in Miami County have access to a variety of programs to enhance the effectiveness of conducting fraud investigations. These programs provide a large amount of information used to analyze food stamp activity and can be used to locate potential victims, witnesses and suspects named in fraud investigations. The fraud investigators in Miami County work diligently to build positive relationships with a host of potential resources throughout the county, including law enforcement, prosecutors, local businesses, landlords, property managers and various other entities.
In 2015, Miami County Department of Job and Family Services investigated more than 300 complaints of possible fraud in Miami County and collected more than $44,000 in overpaid Ohio Works First Cash, food stamps, Medicaid and child care assistance.
Of the complaints investigated, approximately 45-50 percent were valid complaints resulting in an overpayment and/or a program violation. The department takes fraud complaints seriously, investigating each complaint to determine if erroneous benefits have been issued. Individuals found to be committing fraud are removed from the program, must repay any improperly obtained benefits and may face criminal charges and jail time.
Residents of Miami County may report suspected public assistance fraud by calling the Miami County Department of Job and Family Services at (937) 440-3471.