May Is Public Assistance Fraud Awareness Month

KENTON, OHIO – May is Public Assistance Fraud Awareness Month in Ohio, and the Hardin County Department of Job and Family Services is spreading the word that “Fraud Costs All of Us.” Hardin County is reaching out to public assistance applicants and the public in the month of May to promote Fraud Awareness and encourage proper reporting.

Each year, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services disburses more than $2 billion in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, more than $200 million in Ohio Works First cash assistance and more than $600 million in childcare provider subsidies. Individuals who mislead caseworkers or provide false information 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.

“While most of our clients give honest, accurate accounts of their need, we take allegations of fraud very seriously, because taxpayers expect public programs to be trustworthy,” stated John Folk, Director of Hardin County Department of Job and Family Services. “Our staff investigate allegations, collect overpaid benefits, and pursue penalties for those who intentionally give us false information. As a result of our investigations, numerous overpayments and fraudulent acts are prevented or stopped each year. Last year in Hardin County, we opened 54 overpayments in the amount of $61,632.29 and collected $37,452.24.”

“If a recipient commits fraud they will be disqualified and cannot receive benefits for a designated period of one year, two years or permanently, depending on the nature of their charge and history of prior offenses,” stated DJFS Fraud Investigator, Jessica Osborn.

Applicants and recipients of public assistance programs are encouraged to report their circumstances accurately and timely in order to avoid facing potential criminal charges, program disqualification and repayment of benefits issued improperly.

Residents of Hardin County may report suspected public assistance fraud by calling the Hardin County Department of Job and Family Services at 419-675-1130 or going to http://www.jfs.ohio.gov/fraud