LIMA — The local welfare fraud investigative staff was honored Friday at a conference for its efforts that place the group among the best in the state.
The investigative team at the Allen County Department of Job and Family Services finished second in the state in three categories, claims established in the state, collections of $474,649 and program violations established with 279, said Joe Patton, the investigations administrator for the agency.
There are six investigators along with Patton in that department at the agency. Patton said he is proud of the hard work investigators put in. Allen County competes against the investigative units from big counties such as Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton, Patton said.
Investigators go into the field to handle investigations, and they examine endless amounts of paperwork looking for fraud. Cases come in through tips to the agency hotline, case workers spotting suspicious activity or computer data matching which compares whether someone is paying taxes out of check against the public assistance payroll.
Those caught violating terms of public assistance face penalties from losing benefits all the way up to prosecution, Patton said.
Investigators also work with the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office to prosecute the worst cases, he said.