Know someone who's cheating the system?

February 15, 2012 4:43:05 PM PST
If you know someone who is getting Social Security benefits, unemployment compensation or even subsidized housing when they should not be, you could get up to $5,000 for reporting that fraud.

Crime stoppers and Social Service Agencies are joining efforts to stop people from using the system.

Millions of dollars are lost every year in Harris County because of people who get benefits that they should never receive. Unemployment compensation is just one example, and experts say there is an easy way to find out if someone you know is getting money from the government that they do not deserve.

"I find these people like to brag that they are gaming the system," said John Moore with the Texas Workforce Commission.

Moore says he's seen it all when it comes to people getting government benefits when they should not.

"She was a school teacher who was working and filing unemployment benefits at the same time, which of course is a crime," he said of one case.

Moore says that teacher was arrested as she tried to board a cruise ship.

He's even seen a cop game the system.

"Was drawing child care basically fraudulently, of course working full time for the police department," he said. "She was not eligible."

There are only a handful of fraud investigators within the various social service agencies in Harris county, but thanks to Crime Stoppers, there are about to be a lot more people on the lookout for fraud.

"With the needy come the greedy and so we are going to do something about it," said Katherine Cabaniss with Houston Crime Stoppers. "We are asking anyone in the community who has information about those committing public assistance fraud to call Crime Stoppers."

The tips can be anonymous and can bring up to $5,000 for a lead that ends with a conviction. This is a first of its kind partnership with Crime stoppers and law enforcement within the social service network.

Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos says millions of dollars are lost to those getting benefits illegally and often the benefits are used in other criminal activity.

"I recall several years ago, a Houston police officer was murdered by a drug dealer and when the killer was arrested, he had food stamps in his pocket," she said.

Crime Stoppers wants to hear from you if you know someone committing Social Security fraud, unemployment fraud and even housing fraud.

The agency has a top 10 list of people charged with committing this kind of fraud. If you know anything about them, call it in. It could bring you $5,000.