Audit: $17M of fraud in state benefit programs

61% was found in MassHealth


— For the seventh year in a row, the state auditor's office uncovered a record amount of public assistance benefit fraud, identifying nearly $17 million that was being improperly spent in fiscal year 2017.

In total, Auditor Suzanne Bump's Bureau of Special Investigations identified $16,879,702.88 in fraud spread through 1,150 completed investigations during fiscal 2017, a roughly 9 percent increase over the amount of fraud found in fiscal 2016, Bump announced Monday.

The majority of the uncovered fraud — $10,302,458.47, or 61 percent — was found in the large MassHealth program, which, for many years, has gobbled up most of the state's new tax revenues. About a quarter of the fraud, or just more than $4 million, was found in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Among the instances of fraud found by the auditor's office last fiscal year was that of an East Boston woman who was found to have misrepresented her household size and income from 2005 to 2011 to illegally collect Social Security and MassHealth benefits. She was ordered by a federal judge to pay more than $50,000 in restitution to the Social Security Administration and over $40,000 in restitution to MassHealth.

"Public benefit programs play a critical role in the health and well-being of our state's most vulnerable residents, from children to the elderly," Bump said, adding that 58 percent of MassHealth members and 91 percent of SNAP beneficiaries are either children, disabled adults, or senior citizens.


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