Woman sought for San Francisco welfare fraud | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Woman sought for San Francisco welfare fraud

Susan Wood

The San Francisco district attorney’s office is searching for a transient woman who allegedly bilked the county Health and Human Services Department out of an estimated $5,000 in benefits.

The woman, whose name is being withheld because of state welfare privacy rules, was apparently commuting via bus between Lake Tahoe and San Francisco to collect $310 a month.

She claimed to live in the Bay Area, but investigators became suspicious when she used her electronic food stamp card to buy groceries in Tahoe. The general assistance system was established a year ago in California.

She was supposedly found to be living in various motels around the lake.

The investigator on the case, Bruce Austin, declined to say the names of the motels.

There are no warrants for the woman’s arrest as the investigation is ongoing.

“She claimed she had a San Francisco residence. That doesn’t mean homeless in Tahoe,” he said.

Austin holds some doubt investigators will be able to catch up to the woman, who reportedly shared a positive attitude when she appeared for her welfare appointments. She hasn’t shown up to her appointments for a few months.

“She played the game,” he said.

El Dorado County supervising investigator Pete Shaw estimates welfare fraud occurs between 5 and 10 percent of the time.

“It’s prevalent, but it’s obviously not everybody,” he said.

The majority of the cases – 30 to 40 percent – involve residency issues.

“I have a drawer full of them,” Shaw said.

Other issues include recipients who allegedly lie about having children or a job.

“Our problem is people living in Nevada and claiming benefits in California,” he said.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com

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