Record $15.45M in public benefits fraud detected in Massachusetts

Auditor's office also looking into possible barriers to receiving benefits

BOSTON (WWLP) – A record $15.45 million in public benefits fraud was identified in Massachusetts this year, but that may not mean that there is actually more fraud going on.

State Auditor Suzanne Bump released her office’s annual report on public benefits fraud for the past fiscal year, which ended on June 30. In the report, the auditor’s office’s Bureau of Special Investigations identified a total of $15,448,890.19 in fraud, with the majority- $9.8 million of it – involving the MassHealth program.  About $3.5 million involved the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), $1.2 million involving Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC), and the remainder involving other public assistance programs.

Bump’s office said that the finding of the past fiscal year marks a 12% increase in fraud over the previous year, but said that their findings don’t necessarily mean that more fraud is happening, just that they are getting better at identifying instances of fraud. The office investigates fraud from both ends- individual recipients and providers of services.

Bump said that her office will continue to aggressively pursue public assistance fraud cases over the next year, but they will also look into possible barriers to receiving benefits. Bump’s office will analyze state processes for accessing public benefits, to ensure that eligible people do not encounter difficulties accessing them. “No one wants to see someone who is truly in need go without. On the other hand, we also don’t want people who don’t need to be benefitting from the program.”

Graph shows the total amount of fraud for Fiscal Year 2016, broken down by public assistance program. Image Courtesy: Office of the State Auditor, Bureau of Special Investigations