Welfare Fraud Unit
The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office Welfare Fraud Unit is comprised of investigators that work directly with the Niagara County Department of Social Services (DSS) Investigative Fraud Unit the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office and many federal agencies. The mission of the unit is to investigate cases of suspected fraud and abuses of government funded benefit programs, with the ultimate goal of saving taxpayer dollars.
The majority of the cases are referred to the Welfare Fraud Unit for investigation by DSS. Those cases involve complaints about benefit recipients earning unreported income, having excess unreported resources, not living at their reported address, and not providing accurate household composition information. Upon completion, where fraud is present, the case may be referred to the Assistant District Attorney for review and possible prosecution or they may recommend civil action to recoup funds. Unit members make the arrests when prosecution is recommended by the Assistant District Attorney.
The Welfare Fraud Unit also works closely with the United States Department of Agriculture, the Office of the Inspector General, The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, and other agencies to investigate cases of Food Stamp fraud. Those investigations focus on stores, vendors, and other individuals that exchange Food Stamps benefits for cash, narcotics, and other items that are not authorized by the Food Stamp program. These are long-term investigations and often involve undercover operations. At their conclusion, these investigations have resulted in arrests and the permanent disqualification of stores and vendors from participating in the Food Stamp program.