Committing welfare fraud and avoiding prosecution in El Dorado County is difficult thanks to the diligence of the El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency and District Attorney’s Office, who are working together to identify, investigate and prosecute cases.
Last year alone, their administrative oversight and teamwork resulted in the referral of 200-plus cases and the recovery of more than $340,000.
“We take fraud seriously,” said Patty Moley, program manager of Income Maintenance and Employment Services of HHSA. “Our job is to make sure that people who need and qualify for benefits receive them. But it is also our responsibility to look for false information and potential fraud situations.”
Suspected fraud cases are referred to the District Attorney’s Office to be investigated. Investigators go to the home and/or employer of the client to verify information and collect any needed documents. The information is reviewed and, if warranted, the fraud case is formally prosecuted.
Those guilty of welfare fraud can face a misdemeanor or felony and are required to pay back money fraudulently obtained. They are also assessed an Intentional Program Violation, meaning that they cannot obtain benefits for a period of six months to a lifetime depending on the severity of the case, prior violations and the type of benefit received.
“Our community has aid, assistance and funds to help people in need, but for those who intentionally steal, abuse or fraudulently obtain public funds, they will face prosecution,” said El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson.
Members of the public who may be concerned about and want to report suspected welfare fraud may contact the Program Integrity Unit of HHSA at (530) 642-7300.