Forty-four people in Pennsylvania were charged with welfare fraud throughout the month of January, according to Pennsylvania’s Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG).
The total amount of restitution owed to the state is $143,372 the OSIG told WGAL.
If convicted, these individuals face up to seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
The OSIG also filed 13 separate misdemeanor counts of public assistance fraud.
This is not the first time Pennsylvania has done such a massive welfare fraud crackdown. Last month, the OSIG reported that it had filed charges against 45 people for committing welfare fraud in December 2019.
The extent of welfare fraud is not just limited to Pennsylvania; it takes place all around the country. A 2019 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that $1 billion in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are trafficked in the U.S. annually. But experts say the real extent of the fraud is uncertain and could surpass that $1 billion figure.
Florida officials did a similar welfare fraud investigation in March 2018 and busted nearly 200 people on food stamp fraud charges while they carried out an undercover law enforcement investigation.
People are encouraged to send anonymous tips to the OSIG website or call the Welfare Fraud Tipline at 800-932-0582.