Welfare fraud is taken very seriously. It is a form of theft and a white collar crime that can land someone in prison for a very long time.
One couple in Forest Lake just might find out exactly how much time is served by a person who commits welfare fraud after they received over $150,000 more than they were supposed to receive from the welfare system between May 2011 and March 2015.
After the birth of their child in 2011, the couple applied for assistance and claimed they had no income or bank accounts because they were not working. They also stated that they were living rent-free with a family member, according to the complaint.
The complaint further states that in a community monthly meeting, they were referred to as the owners of an auto sales business. This resulted in an investigation that found several bank accounts with thousands of dollars deposited into them. This completely refuted their claim that they had no bank accounts. There was a bank account for the auto business, a joint bank account, and the female defendant had a bank account in just her name that was used for her student loans
It was also found that they had a Forest Lake apartment that they rented and that on the rental application, they stated that they earned over $7,000 per month through the auto sales business.
Looking even deeper, it was learned that the couple had been involved in a number of court cases where customers claimed they were cheated when they bought cars from the couple’s lot. The woman had pleaded guilty to felony theft by swindle in 2013 as a result of one of these cases. The man in the case has a pending theft by swindle case for not delivering a vehicle that a customer had paid for.
The couple has also been accused of fabricating notes from a health care provider that said the woman was unable to work due to needing to care for her son. Notes were also fabricated that the man was taking classes at Anoka Technical College and that the time he needed to study prevented him from being able to find work. It was later determined by investigators that the man was never enrolled in the college.
From what the investigators gathered, everything that the couple had given to show that they had no income was completely false.
It was also found that the couple had done more than just misrepresent their residence, income, and resources. Authorities state that they also forged the signatures of other individuals. Sometimes these people were real and some of them were fictitious. They did this in an attempt to obtain public assistance.
They have been charged with theft by swindle, forgery, and perjury for a number of incidents dating back several years.
The couple will make their first court appearance in late April.