Fraud is Uncool

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By Linda Cicoira — The diligent work of fraud investigator Frances Bailey, of the Accomack County Department of Social Services, is saving thousands of dollars for the local agency.

Bailey reported Tuesday that she kept $8,350 in cooling assistance benefits from being fraudulently distributed in the last three months by making sure that only those who were eligible received air-conditioning units for their homes.

“Clients submitted over 38 applications and 25 applications were denied,” she said of the period from June to August 2019. Twelve were denied in June, 11 were denied in July, and two were denied in August.

“The clients filled out applications stating they didn’t have any AC units,” said Bailey. “However, upon field investigations/home visits, it was found that several clients already had AC units in their home” despite that their forms stated that they didn’t. Some applicants also didn’t list everyone who was staying in the home because total “income would’ve potentially disqualified them.”

“I don’t want to see anyone without AC,” Bailey said. “However, they have due diligence to be truthful on the applications and allow the Department of Socials Services to make the decision.”

Last year, between June and August, 15 of 27 applications were denied for fraud. Of those, three were received in June, seven in July, and five in August. “Only those found eligible for the AC units received them,” she reported.

For those months, Bailey saved the agency $6,510 in cooling assistance benefits or a total of $14,860 for the two summers.

“I have also helped the agency recover $10,742.11 in unpaid claims so far for the year 2019,” Bailey said. “Unpaid claims are benefits that clients were overpaid due to fraud and have to pay back.” Bailey was able to intercept tax refunds “when the client no longer pays voluntarily.”