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Welfare Fraud Can Be Profitable Lucrative! [Updated]

Catrin Thorman wrote yesterday about a study by Minnesota’s legislative auditor that found one-third of recipients of Temporary Assistance For Needy Families funds were not eligible for the benefits they received. Another news story in today’s Star Tribune indicates that welfare fraud can involve surprising amounts of money. The story is headlined, “Charge: Fridley mother of 8 rang up $118K in welfare fraud in 1½ years.”

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Long suspicious that a Fridley mother of eight was cheating the state out of various welfare benefits, authorities have charged her Tuesday receiving more than $118,000 in government aid over roughly a 1½-year period.
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[Fozia S.] Dualeh illegally tapped three public benefits from January 2014 to August 2015: $85,582 in child care aid, $24,176 in food support and $8,996 in medical assistance overpayments, the complaint read.

If we assume the fraud continued over a 20-month period (beginning of January 2014 through end of August 2015), the state paid Dualeh $4,279 per month for child care aid and $1,200 per month for food ($40 per day). Altogether, the fraudulently obtained benefits were equivalent to a $70,800 tax-free annual income.

Dualeh’s eligibility for these benefits was contingent on the children’s father, Abdikhadar Ismail, not living with or supporting the family. However, that representation turned out to be false:

A search of the home by authorities in late October 2015 led to Dualeh’s husband, and the children’s father, Abdikhadar Y. Ismail, being found in bed under the blankets in the master bedroom, charges said. Men’s clothing was in a dresser, and mail and other documents with his name on them were found throughout the residence.

One wonders how many similar cases of fraud never come to light.

UPDATE: Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute linked to this post, commented on the problem of welfare error and welfare fraud generally, and added with regard to this particular case:

Given the large sums of money involved, the Center of the American Experiment probably deserves an award for most-understated headline on this issue.

Though at the risk of being a pedantic libertarian, I would prefer if the headline said “Lucrative” instead of “Profitable.” After all, as Walter Williams has explained, profit is a meritorious reward for serving others.

But we can all probably agree that Ms. Dualeh deserves membership in the Moocher Hall of Fame.

Correction accepted! It’s a useful reminder that profit is a good thing.

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