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Archive for Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Food stamp fraud may be costing state $22M a year

A federal audit has discovered irregularities in the cases of 883 food stamp recipients, with recipients being dead, having invalid Social Security numbers or double-dipping from the program between August 2009 and August 2010.

A federal audit has discovered irregularities in the cases of 883 food stamp recipients, with recipients being dead, having invalid Social Security numbers or double-dipping from the program between August 2009 and August 2010.

November 30, 2011, 3:41 p.m. Updated December 1, 2011, 12:28 a.m.

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— State auditors trying to weed out food-stamp fraud believe more than 7,000 people in Kansas may be getting benefits to which they aren’t entitled and costing taxpayers as much as $22 million a year, the state’s top social services official said Wednesday.

Rob Siedlecki, director of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, blamed what he called lax enforcement under previous administrations that cut back on fraud investigators — an allegation quickly rejected by his predecessor, who said the department did what it could with limited resources.

Siedlecki said that he understands many people need assistance and that it’s his job to ensure qualified residents receive help. But he noted that every dollar wasted on fraud could have been given to someone who was eligible to receive it.

“We know people are hurting,” he said. “But if you want to game the system, we’re going to come after you.”

A state review of welfare programs conducted in October found 312 possibly dead recipients, 941 cases in which there was severe risk of identity fraud, 261 recipients believed to be incarcerated and 6,400 who had out-of-state driver’s licenses.

That number was far higher than the results of a recent audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously known as the Food Stamp Program.

The USDA audit found that 883 beneficiaries were improperly receiving assistance between August 2009 and August 2010. They included people who were dead, had invalid Social Security numbers or were double-dipping from the federal program.

The USDA audit didn’t consider some factors included in the state’s review, such as prison inmates who may still be collecting assistance or individuals who had non-Kansas driver’s licenses. The latter accounted for the bulk of the state’s possible fraud cases.

“This report confirms what we already knew: that benefits fraud and mistakes exist in the SNAP program,” Siedlecki said.

One common way people are committing fraud is by selling their Vision cards, which are used in place of food stamps, for less than face value. That means program participants are getting cash while purchasers are getting benefits they don’t deserve.

Siedlecki said the state is developing the automated Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System, a $140 million project aimed at improving the state’s accuracy in determining eligibility for cash and food assistance, and medical benefits by cross-referencing state and federal data sources. He said the federal government is picking up the tab for most of the KEES system.

Siedlecki said that when he took over as SRS chief in January, there were only eight welfare fraud investigators statewide, including one investigator for all of the state’s 47 western counties, and no anti-fraud director.

“They gutted the office in half, had no director and no investigator in the state’s largest city, Wichita,” Siedlecki said of previous administrations. “Finding fraud wasn’t a priority.”

The secretary called welfare fraud “low-hanging fruit” that is easily detectable through examining program data. He said the total of welfare fraud in Kansas could go as high as $30 million once investigators start digging deeper.

Don Jordan, who was SRS secretary under Democratic governors Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson, said those administrations did not take welfare fraud lightly.

“During the time I was secretary, there were very tight resources,” Jordan said.

The department tried to ensure “eligible people got the amount of benefits they were eligible for. We didn’t put a higher or lower priority on any part of that job, including detecting fraud. The main way you do that is by determining eligibility up front,” he said.

Siedlecki said two weeks ago that his director of fraud investigation, Ken Thompson, was appointed by state Attorney General Derek Schmidt as a special assistant attorney general and would have prosecutorial authority. What that means, Siedlecki explained, is that his department could criminally prosecute people who commit welfare fraud in Kansas.

In the past, the most the state could do was pursue lawsuits. While civil judgments can be dismissed in bankruptcy court, he said, criminal restitution orders can’t.

Comments

overplayedhistory 2 years, 4 months ago

Yes! fraudulent food stamp recipients thats what brought us down.

The bottom acts like the top, the difference is scale. If the fed charged any interest at all to its Billion dollar borrowers what do you think that number would look like in comparison.

Go on tell people how they should be mad at the hoodlum who stole somebody's loaf of bread instead of the hoodlum who kicked them out of their home.

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BornAgainAmerican 2 years, 4 months ago

This Texas guy gets it!

Put me in charge ...

Put me in charge of food stamps. I’d get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho’s, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.

Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I’d do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine and document all tattoos and piercings. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, smoke or get tats and piercings, then get a job.

Read more at... http://www.theveteransvoice.com/Put-me-in-charge.html

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Stain 2 years, 4 months ago

"believe" "may" "as much as"

What kind of journalism is this? Who put the newspaper up to this story?

How about reporting when you have some FACTS, Journal-World! and not before.

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pace 2 years, 4 months ago

I wonder how much our corporate welfare is costing us? I bet between the tax cuts, loop holes and just plain chicanery, it is over 200 million. i don't see an outside audit of that coming soon.

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Centerville 2 years, 4 months ago

Food is going to get a lot more expensive unless John Corzine can 'find' the money that he just stole from our farmers and ranchers.

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ratfamily 2 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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justlearning 2 years, 4 months ago

SRS and private contractors... if you think a Big Brother government is scary - a Public/Private Big Brother is a Frankenstein. Emma's tweet was just the tip of the iceberg... Lots of dots to connect, but here's a start... LexisNexis - private contractors who came up with 7000 number (not state auditors) Who else uses LexisNexis? Florida Governor Scott Walker. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9072919/FTC_settles_with_TJX_LexisNexis http://www.local10.com/news/Florida-Makes-63M-Selling-Drivers-Info/-/1717324/3078462/-/5juh04z/-/index.html Parent company of LexisNexis bought Choicepoint (a London based company) http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/2008/02/18/daily30.html $135 million contract between SRS & Accenture for Medicaid eligibilty system (A Texas company)

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pace 2 years, 4 months ago

The best way to reduce food stamp abuse is lower the number of people eligible for food stamps. The GOP job plan sucks. what trickles down from fat portfolios is despair. We need jobs, the country doesn't want food stamps, they want jobs. They need to do something, not just doing the same crude which is not working. Real fraud is at the congressional and senate level. JOBS, HOMES, Jobs. jobs.

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Jimo 2 years, 4 months ago

Trillions of dollars down the rabbit hole from systemic fraud on Wall Street and not a single person sent to jail. Legalized bribery of elected officials with no consequence. A former Speaker of the House perverting his fame to lobby his future fellow-lobbyists for any buck waived in front of his nose. Thousands of veterans having their homes illegally stolen from them by banksters.

Yet plenty of effort to find a few million.

Wasn't there a case in Mississippi just last month of some single mother who illegally (prior drug conviction, ineligible under state law) collected $4k in food stamps to feed her children, which she paid back, only to be sent to prison for 3 years at taxpayer expense at God knows what cost?

But hey, since resources are limitless, there's no point in setting priorities!

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ResQd 2 years, 4 months ago

I guess I don't understand why they just don't have pictures put on the ID cards? That would cost the state less money than all of the fraud. If they submit their card to a grocery store and it's not their pic, don't accept it.

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Pay_N_My_Way 2 years, 4 months ago

Government Programs at it's best.

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sunny 2 years, 4 months ago

Anyone that believes 'food stamps' are a great way to give to the community can donate to the cause! Taxpayers should not be forced to support these low lifes living off our tax dollars! If you cannot afford to feed your children, stop having them!

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 4 months ago

Notice that the USDA audit did not include the "out of state DL violation". This is because, to the USDA, it's not a violation. The USDA audit only found around 1000 cases that they questioned. In a program where the recipients number in the hundreds of thousands this is actually not a bad rate, about .3%. (http://www.ksfarmersmarkets.org/resources/faq-food-assistancesnapfood-stamp-program?v=producers In May of 2011 300,000 people, one in ten Kansans, was receiving food stamp assistance.) The reason Rob Siedlecki is pushing this is because of this little gem buried in the article.

"Siedlecki said the state is developing the automated Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System, a $140 million project..."

Whereas food stamp funding comes from the Feds and not directly out of Kansans pockets, this does. Siedlecki is justifying the shuttling of millions of dollars in state money to BB's chosen recipients. It's not just a crock of bovine fecal matter, it's fraud at the state house level.

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To Sides 2 years, 4 months ago

Blame most of the fraud on the USDA. Through the years they have lowered the reporting requirements. Kansas now has simplified reporting. 20 years ago food stamp recipients had to report their income monthly and were monitored closely. Now with simplified reporting they have an annual review and six months later an Interim Report form. Only at the annual review are they required to provide proof of income. USDA promotes the fraud themselves.

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Jayhawk1958 2 years, 4 months ago

I'd raher see fraud on a social program like foodstamps then GE not paying any income tax last year.

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coderob 2 years, 4 months ago

It reminds me of a saying I heard about the advertising industry.

"They say half of all advertising money is wasted. The problem is that nobody knows which half."

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atiopatioo 2 years, 4 months ago

You shouldn't need identification like a drivers license to get food stamps or to vote. Identification is not fair to get the help for your babies.

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Scut Farkus 2 years, 4 months ago

How did they get the cards without a Kansas drivers license? How do they know that these 6400 do not have a Kansas license? I would just say we are having an audit and you must show up, in person, with a valid picture ID to continue to receive benefits.

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 4 months ago

Oh and by the way, the food stamp program is a federally funded program. What does this mean? It means it's portable from state to state. There are no residency requirements for actually receiving the benefits. The only reason residency information is taken is to determine that the Kansas office is actually within it's rights to be servicing the case and to make sure that no other state is already servicing the client. The program itself doesn't cost the Kansas taxpayer a dime, beyond the cost of servicing the case through SRS. You could have come here from Alaska and only been here three days and still qualify for food stamps.

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grammaddy 2 years, 4 months ago

It makes me crazy to see food stamps being spent on junk food. I know a single mom who feeds her kids candy every day. She also has a state-issued medical card and uses it quite frequently for the dentist.Not only is the state providing her with food money that is spent irresponsibly,we the taxpayers are also paying for the damage being done to those children's teeth.And she had the nerve to get angry when there was talk of banning soda and other sugary drinks from the food stamp program.Some folks just don't get it.

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 4 months ago

Just out of curiosity, how do people "sell" their foodstamps now that it's all on the equivalent of a debit card? Also, basing this on 6400 people who had "out of state driver's licenses" is pure BS spin. When people apply for food stamps they have to provide rental receipts, utility statements, etc to prove current residence. All that a DL does is prove ID and having an out of state ID doesn't deny one benefits. Get real.

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coderob 2 years, 4 months ago

6,400 of the 7,000 people identified were listed because they had had out of state driver's licenses. Is it really a surprise that poor people have out of state driver's licenses? Can you seriously put neglecting to update your driver's license in the same camp as fraud?

I bet a fair share are following work, and have no idea how long they'll be in the state for, or have trouble getting off work during the day to make it to the DMV. Granted, anyone who has time to apply for food stamps should also be able to apply for a new driver's license, but the $20 or so it costs for a new one probably isn't worth it for someone living paycheck to paycheck. Add to that the fact that poverty often accompanies a lack of a high school degree, and you can really start to understand the barrier. It seems pretty reasonable that someone without much education would avoid going to the DMV.

That most of the fraud cases were based on out of state licenses really blows this article out of proportion.

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KCMO_Jayhawk 2 years, 4 months ago

No one can tell anyone what they can or can not purchase at a store!! If they want to pay the extra to have name brand items, well then so be it! Some of you people are ridiculous! Think of it this way... if they purchase name brand items or papa murphy's pizza with their benefits than their benefits will not go very far. On the other hand, if they purchase off brand their benefits MAY go further. WHO REALLY CARES?? They can not go to the SRS office and request more money because they spent all of their funds at Papa Murphys. All they can do is wait until next month!

As for purchasing junk food, did the thought ever occur to you all that junk food is CHEAPER! Think about it! Ramen noodles cost 15 cents while a small box of whole grain, all natural pasta can run about $2.00. If I were in need I would be buying the Ramen, cart loads of them to be exact. Same with the juice to soda cost ratio. Blame the corporations making the * and selling the * for so cheap!

Maybe they are purchasing steaks because they are having a special treat, meal. Maybe this is the only way they can celebrate a birthday or special occasion because the only consistent incoming funds are food stamps!

Grow up! Worry about what is in your own * basket and who is obese in your own * family! Simply ridiculous!

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chootspa 2 years, 4 months ago

So we're going to spend $140 million in order to save "up to" $22 million? Is that the best use of our tax dollars, Sidekicky?

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justanotherface 2 years, 4 months ago

A lot of people on foodstamps eat better than the rest of us out there working for a living. I used to work at a grocery store and their carts were always full of steaks, $$ meats and name brands. And don't forget the pop and candy and junk food, which is why a majority are obese too. Just like a couple months ago when I was at Papa Murphys. A family was in there with 5 snot nosed kids running around touching everything, took forever in line and walked out with $50 worth of pizza and pop paid for by foodstamps. I understand that some people need help getting back on their feet, but a majority do use welfare to suck off the government tit so they can sit around and be lazy and create more spawn so their monthly allowance will go up. The foodstamp system should be just like WIC, where they have to get the least expensive, nutritional items that are sold. If people want luxuries, they should work for them.

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Gandalf 2 years, 4 months ago

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas nonprofit organization says one of its top executives is suspected of embezzling more than $1 million in Medicaid funding.

http://www.wibw.com/localnews/headlines/128673838.html

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Blessed4x 2 years, 4 months ago

I have noticed that since the food stamp program went to the VISION cards, there is no longer any stigma attached to it and no incentive to get off the program. Food stamps are for the most "in-need" people in our society. Work them like the WIC program and limit what can be purchased with the money to good, wholesome food. I routinely see people purchasing junk food with their cards and most times, name brands. I'm raising a family of 6 on a single income. We don't have a name brand item in our home unless someone else brought it. I'm all for helping those that need help, but the way programs like this are administered, there is simply no desire instilled in these people to ever get off the program.

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Gandalf 2 years, 4 months ago

I wonder how many of the 7400 with out of state DL's are legal migrant workers or people who just moved here lost their jobs and have not bothered to renew a non expired license?

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William Weissbeck 2 years, 4 months ago

While fraud is fraud, keep the figures in perspective. If it is $22 million and 7,000 recipients, that translates to $3,200 each or $60 week. No one is getting rich or fat. Some steal bread because they are hungry. Some steal because they are greedy. Clinton's welfare "reforms" made it illegal for someone convicted of certain drug felonies to receive food stamps. How many of the 7,000 might be in this "fair" category?

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 4 months ago

Within every category of crime, from murder to jaywalking, there will be a certain amount of crime that goes both unreported and undetected. There is no reason to believe that fraud in food stamps is the one exception. What the real number is we can speculate about, just as we can speculate what the costs of fraud in other areas costs us. But what is almost certainly true is that the 22 million dollars mentioned here is just the tip of the iceberg.

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its_just_math 2 years, 4 months ago

Kath was too busy promoting abortion in Kansas and poising herself to serve in the most socialist-filled administration in the nation's history to worry about a paltry $22 million in food stamp fraud.

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Gandalf 2 years, 4 months ago

He said the federal government is picking up the tab for most of the KEES system.

EviL sam. Didn't you return the grant for Obamacare because we should wean ourselves off of federal tax dollars? Because of fed deficit issues?

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Gandalf 2 years, 4 months ago

Heck, 22 mil? That's nothing Evil sam cost the state 36 million is lost grants all by himself.

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mloburgio 2 years, 4 months ago

Children's defense fund, children in kansas, Child Hunger in Kansas Number of children who receive food stamps 84,907 Percent of eligible persons who receive food stamps 57% Number of children in the School Lunch Program (free and reduced price only) 166,121 Number of children in the Summer Food Service Program 17,225 Number of women and children receiving WIC (Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) 73,238 Early Childhood Development in Kansas Percent of children under age 6 with all parents in the labor force 68.5% Number of children served by Head Start 11,703 Number of children served by the Child Care Development Fund/CCDBG 20,900 Average annual cost of child care for a four-year-old in a center $6,526 Percent of 3-year-olds enrolled in state pre-k, Head Start, or special education programs 12.5% Percent of 4-year-olds enrolled in state pre-k, Head Start, or special education programs 37.1% Education in Kansas Annual expenditure per prisoner $26,430 Annual expenditure per public school pupil $8,640 Percent of public school fourth graders: unable to read at grade level 65% unable to do math at grade level 54% Percent of public school eighth graders: unable to read at grade level 67% unable to do math at grade level 61% Number of high school students who drop out of school annually 8,305 Child Welfare in Kansas Number of children who are victims of abuse and neglect 1,363 Number of children in foster care 5,691 Number of children adopted from foster care 836 Number of grandparents raising grandchildren 19,530 Youth at Risk in Kansas Percent of 16- to 19-year-olds not enrolled in school who are not high school graduates 5.1% Averaged freshman high school graduation rate 79.1% Percent of 16- to 19-year-olds unemployed 18.8% Number of juvenile arrests 9,585 Number of children and teens in juvenile residential facilities 1,146 Ratio of cost per prisoner to cost per public school pupil 3.1 Number of children and teens killed by firearms: 36 19 homicides; 17 suicides; 0 accidents; and 0 undetermined

http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/data/state-data-repository/cits/2011/children-in-the-states-2011-kansas.pdf

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mloburgio 2 years, 4 months ago

Children's defense fund, children in kansas,

January 2011 704,951 children live in Kansas: 8,588 are American Indian/Alaska Native 17,759 are Asian/Pacific Islander 26,156 are two or more races 54,418 are Black 104,019 are Hispanic 503,900 are White, non-Hispanic In Kansas: A child is abused or neglected every 6 hours. A child dies before his or her first birthday every 1 day. A child or teen is killed by gunfire every 10 days. Kansas Ranks: 17th among states in percent of babies born at low birthweight. Best state is Alaska; worst state is Mississippi 27th among states in per pupil expenditures. Best state is New Jersey; worst state is Utah 40th among states in its infant mortality rate. Best state is Washington; worst is the District of Columbia [1st represents the best state for children and 51st represents the worst state for children in the country] Child Poverty in Kansas Number of poor children (and percent poor) 121,395(17.6%) Number of children living in extreme poverty (and percent in extreme poverty) 46,790(6.8%) Number of adults and children receiving cash assistance from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) 37,771 Maximum monthly TANF cash assistance for a family of three $429 Child Health in Kansas Number of children without health insurance (and percent uninsured) 68,000 (9.2%) Number of children enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)* 48,090 CHIP eligibility: 241 percent of federal poverty ($53,140 for a family of four) Number of children enrolled in Medicaid 208,695 Medicaid and CHIP participation rate 80.8% Children as a percent of total Medicaid enrollment 58.8% Medicaid expenditures on children as a percent of total Medicaid expenditures 26.6% Percent of two-year-olds not fully immunized 23.0%

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ivalueamerica 2 years, 4 months ago

I am glad whenever fraud is caught.

However, there are some facts missing in the story.

Many of the deceased recipients foodstamps issued were never used. That means that there was no one to notify SRS.

Many of those who are called double dippers had no idea what they were doing was against the rules. Not all, but many.

Futher, not all invalid Social Security numbers mean fraud. There are any number of reasons a Social Security number might be invalid. It was written wrong, a computer error.

I am not saying the fraud is not higher than it should be, it clearly is...but it also looks like it is being pretty well addressed and the true fraud vs. the accidental fraud though fraud none-the-less is much lower than the 800.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

Multiply it by several million, and it starts to approach the fraud that can be found on Wall Street and in Washington.

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sunny 2 years, 4 months ago

Cut them all off and start over!

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George_Braziller 2 years, 4 months ago

Huh? If the 800 recipients are "dead" they obviously have "invalid Social Security numbers." How are they "double-dipping"?

The article was either poorly written or poorly edited. Next time I'm at the grocery store I'll be sure to keep my eye out for zombies shopping for some brains with their illegal food stamps.


"A federal audit has found more than 800 Kansas food stamp recipients who were dead, had invalid Social Security numbers or were double-dipping from the federal program between August 2009 and August 2010."

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it found 883 Kansas assistance recipients, including many who are dead, who were improperly receiving assistance during the audit period."

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somebodynew 2 years, 4 months ago

I can save the State a lot of money. Fire Seidlacki ($$$ saved) and put Kolbach in charge of this. He seems to be able to find fraud where there is none, so finding it where it actually is should be easy for him. Since he has enough free time on his hand from his duties as SOS to work on other State's 'problems' he shouldn't need anymore money or time to do this job.

See, money saved from Sidekick and money save when Kolback prosecutes real fraud. Is that a win-win ??? Nah, we would still be stuck with Kolbach.

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asixbury 2 years, 4 months ago

Fraud with foodstamps use is also an issue. I know many people personally who sell their foodstamps ($1 for $.50) to buy other items, mostly drugs. I have also heard those same people exclaim when they find out their girlfriend (can't get married or they loose benefits) is pregnant again, "Great, now I will get more money." In fact, every person I know that is young and on welfare are miss-using it. Every one. And I know a lot, since I grew up on Welfare. My mom was one of the very few who actually used it the way it was meant.

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1southernjayhawk 2 years, 4 months ago

Sounds like a lot of fraud to me...and that's what I would have expected. Of course, there is no way there would be that kind of voter fraud here in Kansas.

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hyperinflate 2 years, 4 months ago

"The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services says that number is only a fraction of the more than 7,000 beneficiaries an October examination found who may be improperly receiving assistance"

Yeah, and that "fraction" is a bit over 11% of participants. By that same spin logic, having 6,950 fraudulent recipients would still only be a fraction. Nice try Siedlecki. Simply put, you're not doing a very good job with the taxpayers' money. I guess that's not important to a northbound carpetbagger like you.

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