Society

Idaho Sisters Accused Of Scamming Welfare System Out Over $220k

| by Nathaly Pesantez

Three sisters from Burley, Idaho, have fraudulently amassed more than $221,000 in public assistance benefits, Twin Falls Times-News reports. 

Charges have been filed against all the women, with one of the cases sealed. 

Teresa M. Martinez, 35, was charged with two felony counts for fraudulently obtaining welfare assistance, one count for lying about claims for services or supplies, and one count for the unauthorized use of food stamps. 

Conception A. Lopez, 33, was charged with using food stamps unauthorized and for fraudulently claiming and using public assistance.

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The third sister's case is sealed.

Health and Welfare spokesman Tom Shanahan told Twin Falls Times-News that the amount money collected by the three women is practically unheard of for the city. 

“Most cases are $10,000 or less,” he said.

The charges date back to 2009 and extend to March, when the department of Health and Welfare filed a report against the women. 

According to officials, the three women claimed the same address, even though they were all living in different locations. The total number of people living under a single manufactured home would have been eight, had the claims been accurate. 

Lopez received over $90,000 in Medicaid, food stamps, and ICCP, while Martinez obtained over $100,000 in benefits, according to Health and Welfare officials. The third sister fraudulently received over $28,000 in aid. 

Martinez reportedly covered for Lopez by handing documents to the state that declared Lopez employed, even though Lopez was not. Martinez also claimed her child, who was attending school in Washington, lived with her. Martinez’s husband also denied Martinez's false claim that he was unemployed and living with her. 

Preliminary hearings are set for June 19 for Lopez and Martinez.

Roughly 8.1 percent of all federal payments made during the fiscal year of 2013 were "improper," which includes fraud, according to Federal Safety Net.

Source: Twin Falls Times-News, Federal Safety Net
Photo Credit: Twin Falls Times-News​​