The Public Assistance Fraud Unit of the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office is a team made up of attorneys, investigators and support staff. The individuals in the unit work with personnel from various social service agencies to detect, investigate, and successfully prosecute individuals who steal from the needy of this county. Every effort is made to ensure that those individuals will be discovered, whether the theft involves:
An unqualified recipient of cash aid
Housing and childcare benefits or food stamps
A merchant dishonestly taking advantage of a food program
A person who fails to provide care to an elder or disabled person
If the investigation reveals fraud, the individual responsible will be disqualified from future benefits and prosecuted in the criminal court.
The investigation often begins when a citizen alerts unit staff that an individual who receives some form of aid appears to be failing to fully disclose their assets or employment. Other cases are initiated when State or Federal records show that the person on aid has unrevealed assets or income.
When an investigation is completed and the individuals who commit the fraud are convicted, the Court universally requires the convicted individual to repay the amount stolen. In a past case, one family was required to repay more than $200,000 they had fraudulently obtained from various aid programs.