New report uncovers record amount of fraud in state’s public assistance programs

Hampden County

A new report has uncovered a record amount of fraud in the state’s public assistance programs.

The state auditor discovered $17-million in fraud, overall in 1,150 investigations, for programs like food stamps and MassHealth.

Nell Gasque of Springfield told 22News, “A full investigation and prosecution. I mean they are stealing.”

It’s public tax money meant to help the most financially vulnerable.

People go to the Springfield office of the Department of Transition Assistance to sign up for food stamps. The exact kind of public assistance that others are taking advantage of.

“It’s ridiculous. It enrages me tremendously because I’m a single mother of 4 children looking for housing and other things and I can’t because there has been so much fraud they are looking down on me like I am doing something wrong when I am just trying to get help,” said Gasque.

State Auditor Suzanne Bump told 22News the fraud discovered is a 9 percent increase over the previous year but it’s not necessarily because more people are committing fraud.

She attributed the rise to better detection in a system people say is filled with loopholes.

“Yeah they sell their food stamps to people or even stores. I’ve heard of people doing it,” said Aisha Ford of Springfield.

One in nine residents gets SNAP benefits and 72 percent of those people have an income below the federal poverty line.

“My rent is like $600 a month. That leaves me no income to buy food so I need the food stamps. When people do stuff like this they make it harder on us because they start to change the rules,” said Ford.

This audit also recommended reducing the befits waiting period for families with kids who have life-threatening illnesses form nine months to three.

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