Fraud-fighting project to get upgrades
Editor's note: This article was modified after its original publication to correct an erroneous figure.
Just two months after launching its "Fraud of the Day" website to alert government officials to scams, LexisNexis has plans to improve and expand the service.
Fraudulent behavior shows no signs of slowing down. Fraud against social programs providing food and housing is common, and research indicates that fraud and improper payments cost more than $750 million every year.
The idea of the “Fraud of the Day” website is to illustrate the extensive scamming of government funds so that agencies can better fight it, and to give citizens a way to report fraudulent activity, said Haywood Talcove, CEO of LexisNexis Special Services.
The company's goal for the site is to pool and share information about fraud and integrate news and expert commentary. The online forum also features links to events and resources relating to governmental fraud and a regular column on fraud, which is written by Larry Benson, director of strategic alliances for revenue discovery and recovery at LexisNexis.
In coming weeks, the company plans to add video content on key social services topics and the ways people try to exploit them, Talcove said. It will also add material on the fraud issues faced by law enforcement every day. The firm also plans some technical upgrades, including improved search functionality in the fraud archive.
"We want to continue to update the resources section with current documents (e.g., IG reports, GAO reports) and provide resources ourselves," Talcove said. "For example, LexisNexis experts are often asked to speak about detecting and preventing fraud in government programs. We plan to include a link on the site where government agencies easily can request that our experts speak at their educational events."
Since its launch in November 2011, the website has garnered more than 1,000 subscribers and 5,300 unique visitors. Site visitors can read up on all the different kinds of fraud perpetrated throughout the country, from the typical to the bizarre. Most of the fraud is within social services, Talcove said, citing one example where a food stamps recipient had listed 29 different P.O. box addresses to continue receiving improper payments from the government.
However, one of the more unusual cases involved an American citizen who faked his identity to avoid prison time after getting arrested on drug possession charges. Claiming he was an illegal immigrant, the Salt Lake City man was given a one-way ticket to Mexico, without Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency officials verifying his statements.
"There is a real demand for information about governmental fraud," Benson said. "As the economy remains in flux, perpetrators are finding more and more creative methods of defrauding the government of money. This forum will bring some of these approaches to light, enabling the individuals charged with fighting fraud to learn, share and interact with each other."
Follow the service on Twitter at @fraudoftheday.
Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.