Public Assistance Fraud Investigations
Public assistance, more popularly known as welfare, is one of the most hotly debated topics in American political discourse. Left leaning pundits and politicians praise public assistance as a way to ensure the health, safety, and prosperity of those in our society who are the least well off and who need the most help. On the other hand, more republican leaning members of our society believe that public assistance results in people taking advantage of the system, failing to overachieve, and burdening the state and taxpayers. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. However, one truth universally applies: if a person commits fraud in their application for public assistance benefits, the government will find out and will get their money back.
Public assistance can take on multiple forms. The most common form of public assistance is likely food assistance in the form of food stamps. Other public assistance comes in the form of health care such as Medicaid, child care assistance, and even direct cash assistance for some qualifying applicants. The process for applying for public assistance has been dramatically streamlined as the internet and online forms have taken over for paper applications an in-person interviews. The ease with which people can apply online however, has led to an exponential increase in fraudulent applications. If you discover that you are being investigated for public assistance benefit fraud, you should contact a dedicated criminal defense lawyer immediately to protect you from law enforcement tactics.Public Assistance Fraud Investigations
A person commits public assistance fraud if he or she makes a fraudulent or false statement in their application or recertification for any public assistance benefit. This often takes the form of falsifying loss of income documents. Often times people receiving public assistance will obtain a higher paying job or will get a raise at work. Once that happens, they are often disqualified from receiving public assistance that helped their family get by. Those people are left with the difficult choice of turning down the additional money or forgoing necessary welfare. Unfortunately, some people in that position simply choose to falsify information on their applications to continue to receive assistance. If this has happened to you, be sure to contact a skilled Clearwater criminal defense lawyer right away to protect your rights.
Investigations into public assistance fraud are often triggered by changes in circumstance. When people report a loss of income or even when they voluntarily cancel their benefits, an audit of their file is often put in place. Investigators from the department of financial services will reach out to the suspects employer and even their friends and family. If they find any discrepancies between the applications and the reality, a criminal investigation will be instituted and the case will often be sent to the state attorney to determine if criminal charges are warranted.
At this stage of an investigation, a financial crimes investigator may reach out directly to you for a statement. These are criminal investigators and they are not trying to “get to the truth.” They are trying to collect evidence to convict you of a crime. You should never agree to speak to any police officer or investigator without first speaking with a dedicated Clearwater criminal defense lawyer to understand your options. Hiring a lawyer at this stage can often throw a wrench in to the government’s investigation and result in reduced or dropped charges.Speak to Our Lawyers Today
The attorneys at Hanlon Law have years of experience representing clients investigated for public assistance offenses. We have developed relationships with the DFS investigators who run the show and respect our representation of our clients. And we have developed strategies to prevent the arrests and convictions of our clients for such offenses. If you or a loved one has been investigated or charged with public assistance fraud, call us right away for a consultation at 727-897-5413.