by: Tenikka Smith Updated:
CABARRUS COUNTY - From food stamps for groceries to Medicaid for doctor's visits, the Cabarrus County Department of Human Services is cracking down on people abusing public assistance.
Director Ben Rose said, "One of our primary jobs is being good stewards of our tax dollars."
Rose said that prompted his department to work with the county leaders, the district attorney and law enforcement to create a system to investigate welfare fraud back in 2012.
It took about a year to get it off the ground, and since July 2013, two fraud investigators have uncovered $1,124,263 in fraud.
Uncovering the abuse is tedious. Investigators can look back six years into a client’s history going through paper work and more.
"They are going to grocery stores and pulling video tape. Really doing field investigations and doing home visits," said Rose.
Their first round of cases are now making their way through court, including a person accused of nearly $44,000 in food stamp and Medicaid fraud.
Cindy LePage said public assistance is how she makes ends meet.
"It's upsetting that people would rip and fraud from people who really need it," LePage said.
She's glad the county is holding those who abuse the system accountable.
"You should go after people who are frauding, it's not fair to the rest of us," she said.
People found guilty of fraud face a range of punishment including criminal charges, reimbursements or being disqualified from programs.
Counties also receive financial incentives from the state for pursuing fraud cases.
To report public assistance fraud in Cabarrus County call 704-920-1400.