Statement: Twenty-four percent of new welfare applications in San Diego County contain some form of fraud, the Los Angeles Times reported Oct. 4 based on information provided by John Haley, who oversees financial crime prosecutions for the District Attorney’s Office in San Diego.
Analysis: In early October, the Los Angeles Times reported that welfare recipients have spent millions of dollars in welfare payments out of state, in some cases dropping dough in vacation hotspots like Las Vegas and Hawaii.
Welfare recipients are allowed to leave California with permission from their case workers, but the Times wanted to know how authorities are monitoring those cases for fraud. It wrote:
County investigators, who state authorities say are responsible for rooting out fraud and abuse, typically don’t question a recipient’s whereabouts until transactions on a welfare card show that he or she has been gone for more than 30 days.
“If it’s a one-time thing in Miami, we would never check that out,” said John Haley, commander of the financial crimes division of the San Diego County district attorney’s office, who said 24% of all new welfare applications in his jurisdiction contain some form of fraud. “We look for patterns of abuse.”
San Diego County’s approach to welfare fraud has come under intense scrutiny in recent years as state and county authorities implemented stricter rules. Advocates for the poor argue the new policies made it harder for eligible people to receive welfare, allowing the needy to fall through the county’s safety net.
In defense of stricter policies, state and county officials have pointed to statistics showing rampant fraud.