Welfare fraud

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Welfare fraud is the illegal use of state welfare systems by knowingly withholding information or giving to obtain more funds than is allowed.

In the United States[edit]

The US Department of Labor reported that 1.9% total unemployment insurance (UI) payments for 2001 was attributable to fraud or abuse within the UI program.[1] The Los Angeles Times reported in 2010 that 24% of new welfare applications in San Diego County contain some form of fraud, which was determined to in fact include all forms of inaccuracy rather than just fraud.[2]

In Florida, from July to October 2011, cash welfare recipients were drug-tested, with advanced notice, and only 2.6% came back positive. Thus, 97.4% of recipients who chose to partake in the testing program were not using any kind of illegal or illicit drugs. Of the 2.6% that came back positive, most of the people came back positive for marijuana. Governor Rick Scott eventually stopped pursuing people on welfare to get tested.[1]

According to the Department of Labor, based on the 2012 IPIA three-year average data report, Unemployment Insurance (UI) fraud was seen in 2.67% of cases.[3] XML and XLS Unemployment Insurance data sheets released yearly available at: www.dol.gov/dol/maps/Data.htm

Examples of US welfare fraud include:

  • A 1977 claim by the executive director of the Illinois Legislative Advisory Committee on Public Aid, that a Chicago woman named Linda Taylor used 14 aliases to obtain $150,000 for medical assistance, cash assistance and bonus cash food stamps.[4] She is believed to form the basis of Ronald Reagan's "welfare queen", and was sentenced for two to six years.[5]
  • Dorothy Woods, of the U.S., who claimed 38 non-existent children.[6] She was sentenced to eight years' jail.[5]
  • Esther Johnson of California, sentenced to four years in state prison in 1979 for "collecting $240,000 for more than 60 fictitious children".[7]
  • Arlene Otis of Cook County Illinois, indicted on 613 charges of "illegally receiving $150,839 in welfare funds between July 1972 and February 1978."[8] She was sentenced to four years' jail.[5]

In the United Kingdom[edit]

The United Kingdom Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) defines benefit fraud as when someone obtains state benefit without being entitled to or deliberately failing to report a change in personal circumstances. The DWP claim that fraudulent benefit claims amounted to around £900 million in 2008-09.[9]

A UK State of the Nation report published in 2010 estimated the total benefit fraud in the United Kingdom in 2009/10 to be approximately £1 billion.[10] Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that benefit fraud is thought to have cost taxpayers £1.2 billion during 2012-13, up 9% on the year before.[11] A poll conducted by the Trades Union Congress in 2012 found that perceptions among the British public were that benefit fraud was high. On average, people thought that 27% of the British welfare budget was claimed fraudulently;,[12] but official UK government figures have stated that the proportion of fraud stands at 0.7% of the total welfare budget in 2011/12.[13]

In Japan[edit]

In 2010, a Tokyo family was suspected of fraud after claiming pensions for a man for 30 years after his alleged death. His 'skeletal remains' were found still in the family home.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Human Resources, 6-11-02 Testimony". Waysandmeans.house.gov. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  2. ^ "Fact Check: The Frequency of Welfare Fraud - voiceofsandiego.org: San Diego Fact Check". voiceofsandiego.org. 2010-11-10. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  3. ^ "Unemployment Insurance (UI) Improper Payments By State". Retrieved 2013-09-12. 
  4. ^ Associated Press, Mar. 8, 1977, AM cycle, Chicago (available on LEXIS)[verification needed]
  5. ^ a b c Spamlaws.com Welfare fraud examples
  6. ^ "Woman's Aid Claims for 38 children Are Examined". The New York Times. December 21, 1980. p. 31. 
  7. ^ Associated Press, June 13, 1979, AM cycle, Compton, CA (available on LEXIS)[verification needed]
  8. ^ "Woman Faces 613 Counts Of Welfare Fraud". Observer-Reporter. Associated Press. May 9, 1978. 
  9. ^ Reporting benefit fraud at Directgov
  10. ^ "State of the nation report: poverty, worklessness and welfare dependency in the UK" (PDF). HM Government. May 2010. p. 34. Retrieved 5 January 2013.  Figures quoted as distinct from costs related to error
  11. ^ Dixon, Hayley (13 December 2013). "Majority of benefit cheats not prosecuted, official figures show". The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  12. ^ "Support for benefit cuts dependent on ignorance, TUC-commissioned poll finds". TUC. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  13. ^ "Fraud and Error Preliminary 2011/12 Estimates". Fraud and Error in the Benefit System: Preliminary 2011/12 Estimates (Great Britain) Revised Edition. Department for Work and Pensions. 6 June 2012. p. 2. 
  14. ^ "Tokyo's 'oldest man' had been dead for 30 years". BBC News. 2010-07-29. Retrieved 15 January 2013.