Finding the Fraud
POSTED: Thursday, September 23, 2010 - 5:31pm
UPDATED: Thursday, September 23, 2010 - 6:08pm
The Housing Authority of El Paso, HACEP, helps out low-income families with an affordable place to live. But what if families aren't honest about those incomes?
HACEP launched a fraud unit a few months ago to make sure families were reporting correct incomes so their rents could be adjusted accordingly.
"There are things they should improve in our community,"
Pilar Medina lives in a housing authority community with her three kids. Since there's things she'd like to see improved, she doesn't want to see any money wasted.
"They should improve the parks, the units, the cabinets."
But money was wasted. Tens of thousands of federal tax dollars going to people lying about their income to qualify for more assistance.
"They have a unit that can be used by another person who truly is making less money," Medina said.
So HACEP created a fraud unit.
"In order to keep it affordable we have to make sure that the people participating in our program are paying their fair share," said HACEP spokesman Shane Griffith.
The fraud unit is comprised of two detectives who follow tips and knock on the doors of people they think may be committing fraud. If the person is found to be lying, they have to pay up, or lose their home and be prosecuted.
"We've successfully collected $120,000," Griffith said.
Medina is glad to not only see the economic crackdown, but also the moral one.
"The program they're doing is a good thing, to know which neighbors aren't telling the truth," she said.