Scamming Wisconsin’s Welfare System


Oops. We’re not really allowed to call it “welfare” anymore. That might hurt someone’s feelings.  Back in the 90’s Wisconsin changed the name from “welfare” to “W2″ (which stands for Wisconsin Works – ha ha ha….)

Wisconsin has long been known as a great place to collect welfare. We’ve had Illinois residents crossing the border for years to collect benefits here. It’s always been easy, so long as they have a Wisconsin address they can use.

I’ve been telling people for years that operating a daycare center that takes in W2 children is lucrative. And the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is running a series on just how lucrative it can be. Fraud is rampant, although it seems like state officials are being a little less than forthcoming with the data which proves this.

Here’s just how easy it is to defraud the state out of child care dollars:

  • Get someone to “verify” that you have a job. Real documentation is not necessary. A simple phone call or note on a scrap of paper will do.
  • Don’t worry about anyone verifying that you filed were actually paid for the “work” you supposedly did at your “job.” I mean, it’s not like the state actually receives tax forms from employers (W-2 wage statements) at the end of the year and could verify that you were actually paid for work. (Oh wait… yes they could. I guess they just don’t.)
  • Enroll your kid in child care. It doesn’t have to be a real provider of childcare. It can be your sister who lives with you.
  • Don’t worry about anyone verifying that your child is actually attending daycare while you’re (not) working. It simply doesn’t happen.

Yes, believe it or not, this is actually how it happens. The Journal Sentinel reports:

Yet inside, a young woman has tapped into a home-based money-making operation that netted her and her three sisters more than half a million in taxpayer dollars since 2006.

And they did it with the blessing of the state.

All four had been in-home child-care providers. Collectively they have 17 children. For years, the government has paid them to stay home and care for each other’s children.

Nothing illegal about it under the rules of Wisconsin Shares, the decade-old child-care assistance program designed alongside Wisconsin’s welfare-to-work program.

That’s right. Four women living together with 17 children. Getting money from the state to “take care of each other’s children” while none of them actually works at a real job. Totaling over $540,000 paid to these women in less than 3 years.

Here’s more from the article on how easy it is to game the system:

  • Sisters or other relatives can stay home, swap kids and receive taxpayer dollars. The four Racine sisters took in as much as $540,000 in taxpayer dollars in less than three years, mostly to watch each other’s kids.
  • Rules allow parents to be employed by child-care providers and enroll their children at the same place. At some centers, children of employees make up the majority of kids in day care. In one Milwaukee location, an employer and parents are accused of teaming up to bilk the system out of more than $360,000.
  • Child-care subsidy recipients have been allowed to work for almost any type of business. Payments were made when moms claimed to work ironing a man’s shirts, drying fruit and selling artwork they made during art class.
  • The government pays for child care while parents sleep. Counties have no way to monitor whether parents are actually sleeping while their kids are in day care.

And it’s not like this scam is any secret. Here’s more from the article:

In October, the Milwaukee County DA’s office filed charges against the owner of Tender Moments Day Care Center on W. Capitol Drive.

The complaint alleges the owner, Shartavia Adams, and her mother, Bernice Watson, bilked the system out of more than $360,000 from September 2006 through October 2007. It was the first time in the last five years that prosecutors in southeastern Wisconsin have brought charges of suspected child-care fraud. And it is the largest such case in Milwaukee County history.

“There’s no reason to believe that was an isolated case,” said David Feiss, a Milwaukee County assistant district attorney who is prosecuting the case.

Watson and Adams allegedly recruited women to work at the day care center. The women would then enroll their children in the center – bringing in roughly $150 to $220 per week per child. The children seldom attended and their mothers rarely worked, according to the complaint. But Adams billed the state more than $2 million in 2006-’07.

As one state worker put it in a memo to colleagues, Bernice Watson is “known in the child-care community as the ‘day-care pimp.’?”

And people wonder why we have a budget deficit in Wisconsin? We’re wasting billions of dollars per year. If we’re going to be spending taxpayer dollars on programs like welfare, the least our government can do is put some checks and balances in place to make sure our money is not being given to people committing fraud.

And it’s not like any of the cases cited in the article were that hard to discover. Has anyone thought of cross-checking the addresses at which “daycares” supposedly operate? Might it be questionable to have more than one daycare at the same address?

Has anyone considered that in-home “daycares” might be more likely to be engaged in fraud? Might it be wise to give greater scrutiny to any “daycare” at a residential address?

Has anyone wondered why so many women with children in the W2 daycare system supposedly work at the daycare centers they send their children to? Even though this can be a legitimate option under the system, hasn’t anyone thought that these situations should give rise to a little more scrutiny because of the obvious opportunity for abuse?

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12 thoughts on “Scamming Wisconsin’s Welfare System

  1. Pete

    *** Welfare Fraud? Please check it out
    The milk change was noticeable in Williams’ home, she said. They switched from whole milk to 1 percent, and her 22-year-old son is still adjusting.
    Allison Williams – On WIC grocery program
    JANESVILLE — Eating healthy always has been a priority for Allison Williams and her two children.

    But recent changes to the WIC food program have made that goal a little easier.

    “I like a lot of the changes,” said the Janesville mom. “I like being able to get the fruits and vegetables. That’s really nice. And the whole wheat breads.”

    This summer, the nutrition program in the federal grant program Women, Infants and Children changed its food packages for the first time since it started in the 1970s, said Jennifer Johnson, WIC nutrition director for Rock County.

    WIC promotes the health and well-being of nutritionally at-risk pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, infants and children by providing supplemental nutritious foods, nutrition and breastfeeding information, and referral to other health and nutrition services.

    The food and educational message changes were made nationally after research to better align the food packages with the most recent 2005 national dietary guidelines, Johnson said.

    WIC would teach about the benefits of whole-grain foods, for example, but couldn’t reinforce it because such foods weren’t included in the food package, she said.

    While the changes affect the nearly 4,000 Rock County residents served by WIC per month, they also are an example of good eating habits for the general public, she said.

    The changes shift from milk, cheese and eggs to fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

    “Most families are happy to see the new foods,” Johnson said.

    A few, however, have been frustrated by switching to low-fat milk, and it’s taken some adjustment to get used to doing the math to use the fruit and vegetable vouchers, she said.

    The milk change was noticeable in Williams’ home, she said. They switched from whole milk to 1 percent, and her 22-year-old son is still adjusting.

    “That was a big change for us,” she said.

    And like a true Wisconsin resident, Williams said she misses the cheese in the food package.

    “I know a lot of families who were very excited about the change (because) fruits and vegetables can tend to be the more expensive things,” Johnson said. “When the money is tight, those are usually the first things to go.”

    Most area grocery stores participate in WIC and must keep a certain amount of WIC foods on hand, she said. That means the general public might see more of the new foods, Johnson said, “hopefully a shift in what the general public” buys, too.

    The new foods are more consistent with the nutrition education messages provided to WIC participants: eat more fruits and vegetables, lower your saturated fat, increase whole grains and fiber, drink less sweetened beverages and juice, and babies are meant to be breastfed, according to WIC.

    “We’re now able to do more reinforcement with whole grains, and the participants actually have resources to get fruits and vegetables,” Johnson said.


    Amounts and types of food vary between family size and type, but here are the major changes:

    — New foods: fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen, canned), whole grain breads, baby foods—fruits and vegetables for all infants and meat for fully breastfed infants.

    — New alternatives: brown rice, soft corn or whole wheat tortillas for whole wheat bread; canned beans for dried beans; and canned salmon for canned tuna.

    — New quantities: Quantities of milk, eggs, juice and cheese are reduced for women and children. Quantities of infant formula are adjusted for breastfed and older infants.

    ***Please read that her 22 year old normal son is eating the food I pay for that is suppose to go to the needy

  2. Sue Lauterbach

    I have personally heard of many people frauding the welfare system. I can’t help but blow my top everytime I hear someone speak of how they receive xyz funds and they are living with someone to pay the rent, or they collect W2 funds for what ever reason. They don’t think twice about it and no one else speaks about it or reports the FRAUD. People, pick the phone up and report it.

    What part of this are people not getting! Turn these people in. It’s not about politics, it’s about responsibilty to your neighbors. I work 12-14 even 16 hours a day to survey and just bairly making it. Im tired of paying for your children. Actually, I’m comfortable to say…It’s not your children I’m paying for, It’s your livleyhood. “BE RESPONSIBLE” IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD CHILDREN, DON’T HAVE THEM. I’m tired of paying for it. One mistake can be justified, but the next is on your payroll, lay off of mine!

  3. Laura Roberts

    I’m doing research on entitlement fraud and was wondering if there are any statistics state or federal of how much fraud goes unchecked? Also looking on statistics showing how much is actually recovered. Any help is much appreciated.

    I lived and WI and saw this all the time. Folks were getting SSI, W2, medical housing the entire works and bragging about it. Many were double dipping in Illinois as well. We need to completely reform these programs nationwide.

    One huge thing is that they all be required to do so many hours per month community service. I have a entire list of suggestions, but don’t want to rattle on here.

    Again any help you can give me will be most appreciated.
    L.M. Roberts

  4. Raul Crespo Rios that lives in milwaukee has been scamming the welfare for years. he lives with his girlfriend and kids and illegally collects. He sells $200 of his food stamps to Ramon Aguilera Cerritos every month for $80 so he can buy cigs,beer, and drugs. He also sells his kids for taxes. He gives Ramon and Pedro rios his kids information (6 kids) and they claim them as their own and splits the money. He doesnt claim them because he owes back taxes and child support.

  5. Timothy

    thisis a bad subject for me my exgirlfriend themother of my two children is 23 years old and is on disabilty because sheis bypolor gets500plus dollars in foodstamps gets her utilitys paid now they are going to send her to college and pay her too .my problem with this is she is living with her new boyfriend who has his own house and works full time making good money.If I report it they tellme imlieing because iman ex boyfriend.Now before people start to think I pay my child support I donot owe backchildsupport my children always comesfirst.I get my kids every wed night every other weekend andtwo weeks inthe summer.Mypaycheck after taxes and child support equals around three hundred dollars every two weeks.I asked for small amount of foodstamps to helpwith food just for the kids I was told dont quallify. I havehad three heart attacks havean anerisom inmy intestions and have my legs and was told i did not qualify for badger careor disability.And may I alsosay Iama U.S. Army Veteran.What is wrong with thissystem i thought welfare was to help u till you got back on your feet.Thesocial workers donot dothere jobs at all.We need to put welfare back where it belongs to helppeoplefora reasonabletime.

  6. I am sure this has been touched upon by many, but the central problem most “honest” people have with this is that we understand that people need help, but how to call foul on the growing number of people that get used to doing nothing and soaking up state money, or shall I say “our money” as this is all about tax payer dollars. Timothy is unfortunately a common case, Parents (either mom or dad) on the outside that are trying to do the right thing and watching ex’s soak this system for every dollar they can. It’s aggravating watching someone garner unearned money because of loopholes, redundancy, lack of follow up from the state, case workers that don’t give a damn and the common practice of passing the buck on responsibilty. We are all tired of it. The attached website provides contact information for various fraud agencies that can and will do something if there is enough voice.

    A looming problem on the horizon is a political one, something that needs to be addressed, thought about and acted upon. This state is notorious for sitting idle and hoping or wishing the 35% of actual voters think like we do. The good thing about this problem is that whoever ends up governor will be on the same side of the fence on this one: Total W2 reform.

    People need help, but they also need to be accountable.

  7. Julie Hartinger

    What I can I do if I have proof that someone receiving aid from the state is bilking money from her elderly grandfather, who is not totally in his right mind. Of course she is not reporting these cash payments she is receiving from her grandfather.

  8. Chels

    What I hate about this is that my family is one of the ones who actually NEED support, and can’t get much because of assholes committing fraud! My mother can hardly stand for ten minutes, let alone work any sort of real job where she has to move. She’s had numerous back surgeries and even now her back bones are deteriorating. I myself have SEVERE CLINICAL anxiety and depression. I’m not one of those people who are just in a bad mood all the time, either. I have SEVERE anxiety attacks that literally leave me in such a state that you’d think I had just witnessed my family being butchered in front of my eyes! Half the time I can think of nothing else other than “When am I going to die already?” Even the people who are trying to help me get a job seriously doubt I can work one due to this. And they’re triggered so easily and frequently!

    In short, I spend every day praying I don’t have an attack and end up killing myself by nightfall.

    I NEED THIS SUPPORT, yet I come online and what? I see THESE ASSHOLES BILKING MONEY.

    I hope they all rot in hell.

  9. Raylina

    I live in Winneconne and I have a neighbor who has been milking the system for years. She claims she got pregnant by a young guy twelve years her junior. The guy was barely 20 years old and she was about thirty two when she got knocked up by him. She was still married at the time and didn’t know who the kid was for. She had the baby, had the young guy sign the birth certificate and claimed child support to the tune of $600.00 or more per month.
    After seeing that the money paid good and she didn’t really have to work since she qualified for welfare, she went ahead and got pregnant again for another guy. When the guy left her, she made another claim for child support and added on the additional child to her welfare stipend for food stamps.
    I hate to say that the kids went without while this woman slipped in and out of her house meeting up with male friends – sporting new clothes, manicures, pedicures, a new car and what not.
    I am no longer her friend because I can’t say that I support that kind of lifestyle. Right now, she’s on the internet searching for more “victims” on Plenty Offish and other dating sites.
    I think some people have learned to tap into the system and feed off their kids. Meanwhile, I can’t even get my poor ol’ dad much needed benefits for his Alzheimer’s that is getting worse – even though he’s worked practically all his life.

  10. STEVE




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