Investigators with The Department of Health and Human Services’ Fraud Investigation and Recovery Unit has reported a record 105 welfare cases to the Attorney General’s Office for prosecution in 2015, up from only 32 prosecutions when Governor LePage took office in 2011. The offences include fraud, unauthorized use of EBT cards, falsifying documents, lying about income, hiding trust funds and most bizarrely “water dumping,” among other things, totaling more than $1.2 million.
The “water dumping” case was brought forward by grocery store employees who realized that a Norway woman was using her EBT card to purchase cases of water, going out back and dumping the water out to collect the deposit on the bottles and using that cash to purchase alcohol, which is a prohibited use of EBT funds.
According to DHHS spokesperson Samantha Edwards, “It’s impossible to quantify exactly how much fraud exists, we know that any amount of fraud is unacceptable and we will continue every effort to find it, stop it and prosecute it.”
The Fraud Investigation and Recovery Unit has doubled in size under the LePage administration and received more than 1,500 complaints of alleged welfare abuse from the general public in 2015. If you suspect a possible case of abuse, you may report it to the Fraud Hotline: 1-866-348-1129 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.