Reporting Public Assistance Fraud in Virginia

When you report public assistance fraud in Virginia, you help social service programs reach more people in need. If you are wondering, “How can I report public assistance fraud?” there are a variety of methods at your disposal. Most forms of public assistance are federal programs that are administered at the state and local level. As such, fraud can be reported to local departments, to the state or even to federal agencies. Since the Department of Social Services (DSS) in Virginia administers many social programs, a report can be made to the DSS for most programs in the state. Some social services have a public assistance fraud reward program in place to encourage citizens to come forward with concerns. It is important to be aware that rewards do not exist for every public assistance program. However, the other benefits of reporting fraud are countless. Learn about the penalties for public assistance fraud in Virginia and discover how to report program misuse and abuse in the below-outlined topics.

When to Report Virginia Public Assistance Fraud

Reporting public assistance fraud in Virginia is necessary for a number of situations. Public assistance fraud reports can be submitted anytime you become aware of a beneficiary misusing his or her benefits for food stamps, otherwise known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Women, Infants and Children (WIC) public assistance grants and other social service benefits. Fraud occurs within these programs in many different forms. Penalties for public assistance fraud in VA can be assessed when you are aware of a beneficiary doing any of the following actions:

  • Making false claims on an application for benefits
  • Selling or trading benefits in exchange for goods or services
  • Failing to report income or household size changes to the DSS
  • Using benefits that someone else is entitled to
  • Intentionally using benefits in improper ways

How do I report public assistance fraud in Virginia?

The methods for reporting public assistance fraud in VA vary based on which program the fraud is occurring in. Some public assistance fraud reports can be submitted directly to the federal department that administers the program in question, while others may go to the DSS or your city or county’s Social Services department. Since many public assistance programs are administered on the county or state level, you may wish to start by contacting your local office first. The Fraud Management unit handles reports that the DSS state office receives. To report public assistance fraud to your city or county, find the local Social Services or Human Services office in your area. Learn more about submitting fraud reports by downloading our public assistance guide.

When reporting fraud in public assistance programs in Virginia, make sure you have as much information about the misuse of benefits. To report public assistance fraud, you usually need to include the name, address and contact information of the person you suspect is abusing a public assistance program. While reporting fraud is usually in everyone’s best interest, it is important to only make legitimate claims. In other words, a public assistance fraud report should never be used as retaliation against another individual. Submitting a false report can lead to a variety of legal consequences.

Virginia Public Assistance Fraud Penalties

The penalties for public assistance fraud in Virginia are serious. After a credible report of public assistance fraud, the beneficiary named in the complaint will be investigated by the DSS or other agencies. Offenders will often have to undergo an administrative hearing with the DSS. A hearing officer will review the details of the report as well as other evidence relating to the alleged misuse of benefits. If an intentional violation occurred, then beneficiaries may:

  • Be disqualified from future participation in social service programs.
  • Be charged a fine or be required to pay back any benefits that were used improperly.
  • Be prosecuted and brought to court.
  • Face charges of larceny.
  • Spend time in jail.

Learn more about the consequences of public assistance fraud in Virginia by downloading our detailed guide on social services.

Benefits of Reporting Public Assistance Fraud in Virginia

Making a public assistance fraud report in Virginia is important for a variety of reasons. First, the penalties for public assistance fraud help deter other people from abusing social service programs. When these consequences are handed down, it can prevent future misuse of benefits. Second, fraud undermines the integrity of social service programs. When you report public assistance fraud in VA, it helps these programs serve their true missions and help those in need. Abuse of these programs often means that people meet the eligibility requirements for assistance and who genuinely rely on them do not receive the level of assistance they need. Third, misuse of social service programs wastes tax dollars, which negatively affects everyone. And finally, there are reward programs for public assistance fraud reports in some programs. When you report fraud in certain public assistance services, you may be eligible for a reward if your tip leads to an investigation and conviction in the fraud case. Some rewards are available from the federal government, but most are administered by local fraud investigation departments.

Virginia Department of Social Services