In an effort to expose fraud involving Medicaid benefits and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program payments, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy and Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple today announced the arrests of county residents on fraud charges .
Officials say some folks go to great lengths to defraud the Department of Social Services so they can avail themselves of various benefits. Since 2012, 809 active fraud cases have been investigated in Albany County. McCoy says a recent arrest netted Thanh Truong, of Latham, who allegedly received $72,752 in benefits illegally. "The fact that he was driving a BMW and a Mercedes-Benz, 'cause we had it verified and the sheriff said, 'Oh it was a Mercedes,' and I said 'No, it's a BMW." No, it was BOTH cars he was driving. These are things that we're gonna go after people for. These are the reasons why we have investigators in DSS that work hand-in-hand with the sheriff's department."
In another case, Denise Mitchell of Albany was charged with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree welfare fraud and offering a false instrument for filing for illegally obtaining $32,589 in Medicaid and SNAP benefits. It is alleged that Mitchell failed to correctly report her household income and took measures to hide her income. Mitchell and TRuong's mugshots were displayed on a poster that served as backdrop for the press conference. Sheriff Apple: "How do we get a lot of these cases? A lot of them are by these folks right here who will get ticked off that their name is out there and they put somebody else on it. And will continue the domino. As well as the great effort by the investigators that are constantly auditing cases and looking. One of these individuals had roughly $340,000 cycled through their bank account in a year. $340,000 and yet they've got the gall to take a check from Albany County for benefits."
McCoy vows to catch every scammer trying to beat the system. "It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow, it might be two years from now. But if you wanna keep lookin' over your shoulders and takin' this assistance, God bless ya, but they're gonna get ya."
Apple says this year, cheats have stolen about $213,000. Those caught will be prosecuted and could be ordered to make restitution.
Since 2012, the DSS Welfare Fraud Unit has uncovered more than $1.8 million in fraudulent overpayments to individuals illegally seeking benefits.