A Minnesota State Senate Committee held a special hearing on Tuesday to consider legislation that would stop efforts to “broaden the childcare assistance program” after a local Fox News affiliate broke the story on Monday that Somali immigrants are allegedly running an estimated $100 million daycare fraud scheme paid for by taxpayers.
“I was concerned,” Scott Stillman, a former Minnesota State forensic examiner told told the committee.
“We are working on and currently overwhelmed with significant fraud cases involving organized crime defrauding hundreds of millions of dollars. Significant amounts of these defrauded tax dollars are being sent overseas to countries and organizations connected to entities known to fund terrorism,” Stillman wrote to his supervisors at the Minnesota Department of Human Services in an email on March 28, 2017, which was provided to the committee.
“The internal controls in these programs really need to be examined,” he added.
“Other government sources tell us Stillman’s estimate of $100 million in fraud a year is on the mark, but the acting commissioner of DHS [Chuck Johnson] disputes the number is that high,” Fox 9’s Jeff Baillon reported.
“I can’t give you that number. Everyone wants to know what that exact number is, but I can’t give you that number either,” Johnson told the committee.
“Ten day care companies are currently under investigation, suspected of overbilling the state millions of dollars, most of them owned by Somali immigrants,” Baillon reported.
“This issue is epidemic, very serious. Is that money going out of the country? Yes,”Omar Jamal, a Somali community member, told the committee.
In its broadcast on Monday, Fox 9 reported it “has learned dozens more are considered suspicious.”
Search warrants obtained by the Fox 9 Investigators show each one of the suspect centers has received several million dollars in childcare assistance funds.
According to public records and government sources, most are owned by Somali immigrants . . . Sources in the Somali community told Fox 9 it is an open secret that starting a daycare center is a license to make money.
The fraud is so widespread they said, that people buy shares of daycare businesses to get a cut of the huge public subsidies that are pouring in.
Government insiders believe this scam is costing the state at least a hundred million dollars a year, half of all child care subsidies.
“DHS management believes a small number of bad actors are to blame,” Baillon noted.
“There are many many fine Somali child care centers that are providing excellent care to our children,” Carolyn Ham, DHS Inspector General, told the State Senate committee on Tuesday.
“We are told by federal and state investigators that some of the fraud money is being sent overseas, and it’s likely skimmed by terrorist organizations when it arrives,” Baillon concluded.