Wisconsin Shares Fraud Adds Up

MacIver News Service | June 10, 2013

[Madison, Wisc…] Fraud in the Wisconsin Shares program seems to be slowing down, but it still continues to add up, according to a recent report from the Department of Children and Families (DCF). As of April the total was at $11.3 million since January 2009.

The Wisconsin Shares Program is a child day care subsidy program for low income families. The MacIver News Service (MNS) began reporting on fraud in this program in 2010. Back then the total was at $3.3 million since January 2009.

DCF sends the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) updates on the program frequently, but not every month. Although each memo includes the cumulative total amount of fraud since 2009, it does not include the cumulative total amount recovered during that time.

MNS asked DCF if it kept track of that figure. Mark Miller, a spokesman for the department responded “Of the $11.3 million in fraudulent overpayments detected, $7.4 million is eligible for recovery through tax intercept certifications, levies on wages and/or financial accounts, liens on real property, and voluntary repayments. When possible, the Department pursues collections of a debt via multiple methods simultaneously.”

MNS examined 18 memos DCF sent to JFC since January 2011. The total fraud recovered during those 18 months was $4.38 million.

“The longer these collection methods are active, the higher the rate of return will be in recovering taxpayer dollars,” Miller said.

DCF tends to collect far more than it spends in those recovery attempts. For example, in February the department spent $24,397 to recover $526,371. That’s a return rate of 21.5 to 1.

Since 2009, 39 childcare providers have been criminally charged with defrauding the program, and 350 providers have been suspended from it, according to DCF.