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Harrisburg, Pa. — Dozens of people who allegedly committed welfare fraud cost the state nearly $300,000, officials say.

The Office of State Inspector General (OSIG) filed public assistance fraud charges against 55 individuals last month and is asking for $291,826 to be paid back in restitution. Additional cost savings will be realized as the defendants will be temporarily disqualified from receiving public benefits in the programs they allegedly defrauded.

“Ensuring the appropriate distribution of public assistance in Pennsylvania is a crucial responsibility we owe to the people of our Commonwealth, and it is vital to uphold the credibility of these initiatives,” said State Inspector General Lucas M. Miller. 

OSIG is responsible for investigating and prosecuting public assistance fraud and conducts collection activities for the public benefits programs administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

During April, OSIG filed felony charges of fraudulently receiving public assistance against a total of 47 individuals and misdemeanor charges against eight separate individuals. These individuals are alleged to have misrepresented themselves and fraudulently received taxpayer-funded public benefits to which they were not entitled.

If convicted, the maximum penalty defendants face for public assistance fraud is seven years in prison and a fine of $15,000. In the case of SNAP, Cash Assistance, or Subsidized Day Care fraud, defendants also face a mandatory disqualification period from the benefits program they allegedly defrauded.

Are you aware of someone committing public assistance fraud? The OSIG invites you to anonymously report suspected welfare fraud on the OSIG website or call the Welfare Fraud Tipline: 1-800-932-0582.

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This story was compiled by an NCPA staff reporter from submitted news. To see a list of our editorial staff please visit our staff directory.