Investigators in the state auditor’s office looked into 1,135 cases of suspected public benefits fraud over the last three months of 2022 and identified fraud in 255 of those cases totaling $2.7 million, according to Auditor Diana DiZoglio.
The auditor last month filed a report with the Legislature outlining the recent work of the Bureau of Special Investigations, which occurred while Suzanne Bump, DiZoglio’s predecessor, was finishing out her term. During the last quarter of 2022, investigators found $1.6 million in Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC) fraud, $771,000 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) fraud, $283,000 in Medicaid fraud, and $7,300 in Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) fraud.
The bureau detected $13.5 million in fraud in fiscal 2022, and $6 million in fiscal 2021. Gov. Maura Healey has proposed a big increase in the BSI budget, recommending a $2.92 million fiscal 2024 appropriation, up from projected spending of $2.01 million this fiscal year.
The bureau’s investigative authority extends to programs administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance, the Department of Children and Families, and the Division of Medical Assistance, which administers the massive MassHealth insurance program. The Department of Early Education and Care is not included in the BSI statute, but the bureau also works with that department through a memorandum of understanding.
BSI investigations can lead to fraud cases being referred to agencies for administrative action and fraudulent overpayments may be recovered through civil agreements. Individuals found to have committed fraud may be disqualified from programs, and cases may be referred for prosecution as well.