Did you know that over the past two years, hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars were lost due to fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government programs? This startling fact, presented by the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, was the main topic of a hearing with the 118th Congress held earlier this year.
As a leading integrated program administration solution, FORWARD has extensive experience administering over $1 billion in funding for state and local governments across various programs and flagged nearly 10% of applications received as highly suspicious. After further investigation and verification by human case workers, that number is reduced to 5.9%.
As a result, FORWARD has developed best-in-kind practices to identify and prevent fraud. In this blog post, Delane Hewett, FORWARD’s Chief Technology Officer, delves into the crucial aspects of fraud prevention, common cases of fraud, and how to respond to fraud in government programs.
The U.S. Department of Justice defines fraud as any intentional wrongdoing that harms the government’s interests. Fraud occurs when individuals knowingly deceive and obtain funds they are not entitled to by submitting falsified information or manipulated documents. Fraud can take funds away from those that genuinely need support to live a quality life.
With technology, any person can now search for and download doctored bank statements, utility bills, and pay stubs online for free or for a small fee. Here are a few examples of documents that can easily be altered to commit fraud:
- Lease agreements
- Bank statements
- Identification cards
Bank statements and pay stubs can now be downloaded online and easily edited to give the appearance that the person is eligible for the program.
Online tools to edit and download forged utility bill statements make it easy for a fraudster who doesn’t live in the service area to make it seem like they are eligible for program funding.
Responding to Suspected Fraud
At FORWARD, we recognize the importance of implementing proactive measures to catch and respond to fraud. By flagging suspicious applications and noting patterns, we can identify potential fraudulent activities and take appropriate action. Careful analysis and thorough document review play a pivotal role in unmasking fraudulent submissions. When fraud is suspected, it is crucial to have clear processes in place to respond effectively.
Here are steps you can take to prevent fraud in the programs you administer:
- Flag the fraud: Give applicants the benefit of the doubt, but if an application appears suspicious, flag it for further investigation.
- Note the patterns: Pay attention to any recurring patterns or similarities in fraudulent applications.
- Analyze and review documents carefully: Carefully examine every aspect of the application, looking for any signs of irregularity or inconsistency.
- Deny the application: If fraudulent activity is confirmed, share the information with relevant stakeholders to determine the appropriate course of action.
The Importance of Fraud Prevention and Moving Forward Together
Fraud prevention plays a crucial role in safeguarding resources and maintaining the effectiveness of government programs. It not only protects deserving individuals from being deprived of support but also fosters trust within communities and ensures long-term sustainability.
At FORWARD, we are fully dedicated to supporting government agencies in their fight against fraud. With our expertise in integrated program administration, we are committed to working with government agencies and non-profit organizations to build an equitable and trustworthy system that serves the needs of all members of society. Preventing fraud and ensuring the right people are receiving a program’s funds is key to driving more genuine applications and building trust within the community.