Local News

May 2, 2013 7:45 PM by Andrew Ellison - aellison@kristv.com

6 Investigates: Welfare Fraud

CORPUS CHRISTI - Welfare programs like Food Stamps and Medicaid are intended to help people in need, but what happens when people lie to get benefits they don't deserve.

In the last four months, the State has investigated over $2 million worth of food stamp and medicaid fraud cases in south Texas alone.

We took a look at some of the biggest offenders here in Nueces County.

We obtained court documents that detail cases of people who didn't qualify for the benefits they were getting and most of you paid for it with your money.

Melody Mesa scammed the state out of $38,956 in benefits that she didn't qualify for.

Court documents say she lied to the State about being married. She claimed she had no husband and no income, but she did.

She wasn't home when we came knocking, but her husband was. He told us he knew about the money that the court has ordered her to pay back, but he denied the lie about the marriage.

Next on our list was Michelle Marshall. She scammed the State out of $18,118.

Court documents say she told the State her only income was child support and that she wasn't working, but she was.

We tried to talk to her, but she wasn't home.

Next, we came to Yvonne Rosas. She scammed the state out of $14,957.

She didn't tell the State that she was collecting unemployment.

We tried to ask her about it, she didn't like that.

"You know what. I don't want to be on the news," Rosas said before she closed the door.

We talked to an undercover State investigator with the Department of Health and Human Services about these fraud cases.

She said they deal with hundreds of cases a year. She said eventually, people will get caught.

"You know, they get away with it for a year or two, but they don't realize you know, when we get you, you're going to owe the state medicaid and food stamps," she says.

Every offender has to pay all that money back, and that's not all they could face.

"I guess they think they're going to get a slap on the hand, but they're looking at felony charges," she added.

The State says once they catch people, they do whatever they need to do to get that money back.

Even if someone can't pay right away, they'll track down family members. They'll even get a hold of your tax refund.

Bottom line is that you at home pay for these programs, and the State wants to make sure every penny is justified.

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