Welfare was created to help provide the basic needs to residents who need assistance to make ends meet and feed their families.
In Michigan, we provide this aid through bridge cards. Unfortunately this assistance is sometimes abused.
To protect taxpayer dollars and ensure state aid is used as intended, I encourage residents to report suspected fraud and abuse.
Examples of abuses during the past couple of years include a million- dollar jackpot winner who was discovered to still be getting food stamps and the recent conviction of a market owner who paid bridge card holders 50 cents for each dollar spent at his store.
This is in addition to three Flint-area business owners who were charged with fraud for buying bridge cards and using tens of thousands of dollars in food assistance to stock their restaurant and catering operations with supplies.
The Office of Inspector General within the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) investigates all reports of public assistance abuse or fraud by either aid recipients or store owners.
In 2011, the DHS Inspector General’s office found $16.7 million worth of fraud in Michigan public assistance programs, down from $18.6 million in 2010.
If you suspect someone is getting benefits that they are not entitled to, please report it. You can do so by filling out a complaint form available on the DHS website at: www.michigan.gov/dhs. Under “Online Services” is a link to “Report Welfare Fraud.”
Complaints may also be made by calling the Welfare Fraud Hotline at: 1-800-222-8558. We owe it to the Southwest Michigan families who rely on this assistance and to all taxpayers paying the bills to eliminate fraud and abuse of this aid and ensure our limited resources are used appropriately.