Welfare Fraud

The Office of the District Attorney provides investigative services for the Shasta County Department of Social Services (DSS) in the investigation of allegations of welfare fraud. In March 1998 the investigation of welfare fraud transferred from DSS to the District Attorney's Office.

Welfare fraud is defined as obtaining public assistance (cash aid, Food Stamps, Medi-Cal) by means of false representation, false device, or omission of key facts. Individuals who commit welfare fraud can be charged with Welfare & Institution Code 10980 - Welfare Fraud, and Penal Code Section 118 - Perjury. In addition to recovery of the illegally obtained benefits, criminal penalties are also sought for individuals who commit welfare fraud.

Welfare Fraud investigations are in two major types. One type is focused at preventing welfare benefits from being issued to individuals who are not eligible. Investigators conduct field investigations to provide information to DSS staff in order for them to have accurate information before issuing welfare benefits and to assist in preventing the fraudulent receipt of welfare benefits.

A study was conducted in the mid 90's in a California county which provided information that a significant number of individuals (over 40%) applying for welfare benefits had provided inaccurate, or false information to the welfare agency and thereby received benefits to which they were not entitled. The results of this study played a major role in the implementation throughout California of welfare fraud investigations targeted at preventing fraud from occurring. In Shasta County, DSS and the DA's Office continue to take an active role in conducting investigations targeted at preventing fraud from occurring and/or minimizing the amounts.

The second type of welfare fraud investigation focuses on allegations that individuals had received benefits for which they were not eligible and potentially did so by fraud. The DA's Office and DSS receive allegations from numerous sources including several computer matches against state and federal information. The two most common types of welfare fraud allegations are that the "welfare family" has more income available to them than they report to DSS, and that more people are in the home than reported (it is not uncommon that one of the persons unreported in the home is the parent of one of children). Another allegation commonly received is that people have more "resources" (vehicles, property, bank accounts, etc.) than they have reported. Allegations that individuals have received aid in more than one county, that they have received aid under a fictitious name, or that they received fraudulent child care payments, are also investigated by the investigators assigned to Welfare Fraud cases.

The results of investigations can range from a finding that the allegation of fraud was unfounded, to a finding that fraud was committed and individuals fraudulently obtained welfare benefits over several years costing thousands of dollars. Criminal prosecution for welfare fraud, recovery of benefits fraudulently obtained and periods of disqualification from receiving future welfare benefits may all be part of the outcome of a welfare fraud case.

How To Report Suspected Welfare Fraud

Shasta County District Attorney Welfare Fraud Investigators: (530) 225-5606
Note: Information may be reported confidentially

 To Report Welfare in California: (1-800 344 TIPS)
California Welfare Fraud Hotline (1-800-344-8477)

To Report Food Stamp Fraud: 1-800-424-9121
US Department of Food and Nutrition