Three Accused of Scamming Thousands in Welfare Fraud - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Three Accused of Scamming Thousands in Welfare Fraud

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Kianna Taylor, 22 Kianna Taylor, 22
Susan Taylor, 46 Susan Taylor, 46
Selena Jones, 47 Selena Jones, 47

Three Charlottesville women are facing charges of felony welfare fraud.  This comes after police say each collected thousands of dollars in benefits they would otherwise have been ineligible to receive.

In total, they allegedly scammed $28,575 in welfare benefits. 

Word to the wise: if you take something that doesn't belong to you, chances are it's coming back to bite you right where it hurts.

Fraud investigator Robert Albertson said, "It's out there, we know it's out there. But it's everybody's money too. It's your money, my money, people that come in here - it's their money too."

"I think it's easier to deal with a little bit less benefits now than opposed to court time, and then jail time, and then having a felony on your record," said Pam Benton, a benefit program supervisor.

Over the weekend, Charlottesville police served warrants on three women accused of defrauding city social services of almost $30,000.

Albertson stated, "A lot of those have to do with unreported income. If the income would have been reported, they would have been ineligible to receive the benefits."

Police say 47-year-old Selena Jones said she had lost her job, and raked in close to $9,000 in benefits - despite being employed at the time of application.

They say 46-year-old Susan Taylor walked off with more than $13,000 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Medicaid benefits without telling case workers she had a job.

Also, 22-year-old Kianna Taylor allegedly didn't report extra money family members were making, and wound up with $6,200 in fraudulent SNAP benefits.

We tried to contact all of them for a comment and had no luck.  Each are slated to appear in court on March 1 to face their charges.

"People find themselves in more desperate situations, and they're thinking that short term - my kids need food today, so I'm going to do what I got to and they're not really thinking long term," Albertson said.

Benton added, "Because there is a lag sometimes in the time the fraud is committed, until we actually find out about it, get the investigation completed, and get it to court - sometimes I think [it] tends to lead people to believe that they can get away with it

Social services say it's stepping up training for its workers on how to spot various types of fraud, and ask the right questions to be sure they catch it up front.  But most fraud goes unreported, making the city's anonymous tip-line hugely important.

For more information on how you can anonymously report benefit fraud, call 434-970-3400.  You can also click here for more information on Charlottesville's Department of Social Services.

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