State Auditor Finds Record-Breaking Amount of Public Assistance Fraud

Nearly $14 million in fraud was identified.

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State Auditor Suzanne Bump. Courtesy Photo

State Auditor Suzanne Bump’s Bureau of Special Investigations released its annual report Wednesday, finding nearly $13.7 million in public assistance benefits fraud in fiscal year 2015.

It’s a staggering, 44-percent jump from the $9.5 million of fraud identified in FY 2014. This marks the fifth straight year of record-setting findings of fraud, according to Bump’s office.

“At a time when government and families are tightening their belts, our work to investigate fraud strengthens the fabric of our social safety net, ensuring these programs are available for the most vulnerable individuals and families in the Commonwealth,” Bump said in a release. “By strengthening the integrity of these programs, we’re also providing Massachusetts residents with confidence that their tax dollars are being used effectively.”

The Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI) completed 10,784 investigations in FY 2015, with fraud identified in 1,131 of those cases. Bump says the BSI’s return on investment has doubled since 2012. For every dollar invested in the BSI, which was $2.2 million in FY 2015, $6.71 in fraud was identified. The BSI’s Data Analytics Unit yielded an ever higher return: $9.08 in fraud for every dollar invested.

The report found $7.7 million of fraud in MassHealth; $4.6 million in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); over $1 million in transitional aid to families with dependent children; $245,670.06 in the Department of Early Education and Care; and $111,099.71 in emergency aid to the elderly, disabled, and children.

Bump stressed that the report’s findings do not necessary indicate greater instances of fraud, but rather, the BSI’s greater effectiveness at sniffing it out. The BSI began FY 2016 with 2,019 active cases.