People scamming the state’s public assistance programs collected more than $2.8 million in fraudulently obtained welfare and health benefits in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, the state auditor’s office found.
The newly uncovered fraud brings the total to more than $5.5 million for the year, according to Auditor Suzanne Bump’s office, which released a report Wednesday documenting the fraud.
Investigators from the Bureau of Special Investigations found that 546 people defrauded the state welfare system in food stamps, child care services, health care benefits, public housing, or cash-assistance programs.
A few cases uncovered this spring have led to criminal charges.
Marina Morrison, 22, of Chelsea was charged in June with two counts of larceny over $250 and false representation to procure money. She allegedly collected more than $11,000 in MassHealth payments by falsifying documents claiming she was performing services as a personal care attendant for a patient for two months, including one month after the man died. Investigators said that after the patient’s death, Morrison also stole three months of Social Security payments, totaling $1,561.
In another fraud case, Stephen Caprarella, 53, of Lynn is accused of collecting $4,988 in MassHealth payments by falsifying documents to claim he was performing services as a personal care attendant for three months after a patient died.
Caprarella allegedly collected $2,271 in benefits from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children. In June, he was charged with larceny over $250 and six counts of false representation to procure money.