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The Fraud Prevention Program was developed to prevent and reduce improper payments of public assistance benefits. Southwest Health and Human Services has a Fraud Prevention Specialist on staff who investigates all welfare fraud referrals. The fraud prevention program for the southwest region in Minnesota is comprised of ten counties: Cottonwood, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Rock, and Yellow Medicine. Southwest Health and Human Services is part of a region and shares the Fraud Prevention Specialist with four other counties.

Elder Woman on phone

Why is it important?

A person who provides false information or withholds facts to receive assistance they are not entitled to or assistance greater than they are entitled to may be guilty of wrongfully obtaining assistance and theft. Public assistance can be in the form of cash assistance, food assistance, childcare assistance, medical assistance, and personal care services. Program eligibility workers must make a fraud referral to the investigator to resolve current eligibility issues whenever the case file information exhibits characteristics of possible or potentially misrepresentation or omission of relevant facts.

People who commit welfare fraud often provide false information, false representations, and conceal information about employment, income, assets, residency, household composition, and absent parents of children. Some people who commit welfare fraud, duplicate assistance in more than one state. Even an attempt to wrongfully obtain assistance, is considered welfare fraud.

The counties within Southwest Health and Human Services, take fraud seriously and will investigate and pursue individuals who commit welfare fraud civilly and criminally. The consequences may include administrative actions, program disqualifications, and criminal charges. Criminal convictions often result in sentences that include serving time in jail or prison, fines, restitution, probation, and/or community service work. Theft of public funds is a felony no matter what the dollar amount.

Welfare Fraud Prevention Goals

Southwest Health and Human Services’ goals are to discourage fraud through public education and awareness, public identification of what is welfare fraud; detect and prevent welfare fraud by protecting the State of Minnesota’s Public Assistance Benefit Programs; and increase public confidence in the administration of public assistance programs.

Reporting Suspected Welfare Fraud

If you suspect someone of welfare fraud, please report the suspected welfare fraud activity in the county of the potential fraudulent activity. You can also report welfare fraud statewide by calling the Welfare Fraud Hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-627-9977 or Twin Cities Metro Area at 651-431-3968. You may remain anonymous.

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