NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (May 23, 2022) – A new sign in front of Tuscarawas County’s Job and Family Services Office is reminding passers-by that public assistance fraud is a crime that impacts everyone.
Director David Haverfield says they used grant money to buy the sign which features a screen for rotating digital messages above a base that reads ‘Public Assistance Fraud Costs Us All.”
“Yeah, absolutely, it does because money that’s paid out that shouldn’t be is money that can be going to other people. So it’s just really important that we maintain integrity within the program.”
The agency last year investigated 122 cases of suspected public assistance fraud and recouped just under 70-thousand dollars from individuals who collected benefits they weren’t entitled to.
“People who would think about less than forthright on an application, hopefully, we’re going to find it and we’re going to make you pay it back and it’s going to make you ineligible for other assistance and we have had cases that do get turned over for criminal prosecution.”
May is Public Assistance Fraud Awareness Month in Ohio. Haverfield says the agency has a full-time investigator who looks for discrepancies between people’s applications and the information listed in public databases. He says the ones they encounter most often are people underreporting their incomes and not listing all the members of their households. Tips can be reported by calling JFS at 330-339-7791 and online at tcjfs.org.