County lauded for work on food stamp fraud


fraud costs logo web(Posted May 21, 2015)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The Madison County Department of Job and Family Services (DJFS) processed 87 claims of food stamp fraud in 2014, up 235 percent over the previous year.

The increase earned the department the Director’s Award for Excellence in Claims Management, presented at this year’s Ohio Council on Welfare Fraud conference. Madison County is the second most improved in this category among all Job and Family Services departments in Ohio.

In 2014, Madison County collected $54,880.92 in overpayments created by benefits being received fraudulently or in error. That money went back into the system to be distributed to individuals eligible for the benefits.

“Fraud rates for our programs are low, and the majority of people receiving services are honest in the information they report and use their benefits as they are intended,” said Lori Dodge-Dorsey, Madison County DFJS director. “Fraud is a waste of taxpayer dollars and creates an unfair stigma for eligible people who deserve benefits.”

Food stamp fraud comes in many forms. Sometimes, a person fails to report or under reports new income. Sometimes changes in the number of people living in a household goes unreported, or an individual continues to collect the benefits for children who no longer live in the household. These and other factors affect a person’s food stamp eligibility.

The income maintenance division at Madison County DJFS receives tips of probable food stamp fraud through a variety of sources, including new hire matches provided by the state and a community tip line.

The division refers these cases to the Fraud and Benefit Recovery Unit at Clark County DJFS. The unit’s fraud investigators look into the claims, collect funds, and refer cases to the county prosecutor for criminal or civil action when necessary.

Madison County has contracted with Clark County for fraud investigation and recovery since 2011.

“There is a very good cooperation and communication between the two counties,” said Terry Perkins, deputy director of Clark County’s Benefits Plus Division.

Perkins credits last year’s large increase in processed claims to Madison County’s emphasis on improving internal accuracy, timely processing, and efficient tip referral, as well as Clark County’s increased diligence in following through on the referrals.

“There has been better collaboration on both sides,” she said.

May is Fraud Awareness Month. Suspected public assistance fraud can be reported to 1-800-516-3463.

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