When it happens, everyone pays

By: Rob Hughes Email
By: Rob Hughes Email

MESA COUNTY, Colo (KKCO) It's a problem that affects every taxpayer.
Welfare fraud abuse is approaching $89,000 so far this year in Mesa County. Compare that to $71,000 in September of 2010. Experts say it's a problem that you can help solve.

"I had a crisis that happened yesterday," says Eric Montgomery, a Mesa County resident. Like many Americans, Montgomery is going through rough times. "I have a lot going on with my son, and my ex, his mom, so things could go a lot better for me," says Montgomery. The 21 year old is looking for work, and gets irritated when people abuse the system. "I don't know why people do it, but I wish people would grow up from it; people that have been here for years and their whole lives and have never left the county or state; and people especially come in from Mexico and stuff like that, and they use the benefits, and just use it for their families," he says.

He's even seen welfare abuse firsthand. "I knew a guy that was doing it and I told him I don't know why you're doing that bro; you come over there, then you bring your family here, and you make all this money, and his family applies for TANIF and all that; but you make $2,000 a week; I don't know why you do it," explains Montgomery.

Mesa County has already seen 160 referrals for welfare fraud this month alone. "Welfare fraud is something that occurs when people intentionally defraud a public assistance program," adds Karen Martsolf, Public Information Officer with the Mesa County Department of Human Services.

The county is taking welfare fraud very seriously. They've launched a campaign called "What Would You Do? You might have noticed one of the billboards in Orchard Mesa.

Officials ask the community to report suspected abuse. "It's difficult to say why we've seen an increase, the referrals really tend to ebb and flow; but we've really been proactive in our outreach efforts," says Martsolf.

And Eric, who isn't abusing the system, says those who are give him and others a bad name. "It's kinda stupid because it ruins it for everyone else, people just need to quit doing their stunts."

The Mesa County Department of Human Services has two welfare fraud investigators and two recovery technicians on staff. Wednesday was the 16th anniversary of President Clinton's welfare reform law.

If you suspect welfare fraud, call the Mesa County Department of Human Services, Welfare Fraud Hotline at (970) 256-2421.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by David Location: GJ on Aug 25, 2012 at 06:32 AM
    I'd like to know why Starbucks accepts welfare cards.
  • by SAM Location: Grand Junction on Aug 24, 2012 at 07:17 AM
    Let's hold the people responsible that are employed by the government to give out all of this money and benefits. Is it not their job to screen applicants before they hand over the money or benefit? Oh, I forgot, we are talking about bureaucrats, just another draw on the taxpayer.
    • reply
      by Hmmm... on Aug 25, 2012 at 05:48 AM in reply to SAM
      You've hit on something. Taxpayers don't hold accountable the agency charged with distributing benefits.
  • by Quick Fix on Aug 23, 2012 at 07:53 PM
    Death sentance for all that abuse it, bet it will make them stop. Ok for all you hippies here, make them pay back every penny they ever recieved if caught abusing it. Even if it means they have to work...OMG
  • by What would you Do? on Aug 23, 2012 at 07:38 AM
    A cheaper and more effective way of providing a "safety net" is through faith base and volunteer organizations. No need for government employees. No need for PR campaigns. No need for "anti-fraud" measures. This is all the result of having a bad idea and instead of dumping it as a bad idea, you keep adding on to it to try to "fix" it.
    • reply
      by Sure... on Aug 25, 2012 at 05:44 AM in reply to What would you Do?
      There's never been any fraud in faith-based organizations...
  • by Stymie on Aug 23, 2012 at 05:35 AM
    This is my money so give it to me. If he gets free stuff why shouldn't I? It doesn't hurt anyone, it's just gov't money anyway.
    • reply
      by Nun on Aug 23, 2012 at 02:17 PM in reply to Stymie
      The goverment doesn't have any money.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Aug 24, 2012 at 09:32 AM in reply to Nun
        Until they let the illegal federal reserve print more worthless greenbacks.
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