NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) - Tuscarawas County Job And Family Services officials are illustrating the consequences of welfare fraud during a month dedicated to raising awareness about the issue. 

Fraud Investigator Tim Haswell says people will mislead caseworkers on their household income, number of family members earning a paycheck or other circumstances that make them eligible for additional state benefits. Haswell says they understand people can forget or not know when something a change in lifestyle needs reported, but he is tasked with figuring out when it’s a mistake and when it’s fraudulent reporting.
“The person who goes to work every day or has mom or dad move into the home and they’ve been there for six months or a year, that becomes fraud, and that’s a bigger concern.”

Haswell says once they can determine someone has committed welfare fraud, the consequences start at repaying the money they owe, and from there he says they can increase in severity.

“It can lead to losing food stamps for a lifetime,” he says. “If you’re 25 years old and you’re losing your benefits for up to a lifetime, now none of us knows what’s coming down the road or how bad things can get.”

Haswell says this year Tuscarawas County has prosecuted three welfare fraud cases.