Although most investigations conducted by welfare system agencies are civil, welfare fraud investigations are an exception. Generally, wrongfully receiving assistance is a crime. See Minnesota Statute 256.98; 256D.14; 393.07, Subdivision 10, and 609.466.
Welfare fraud investigations include investigations of clients and vendors, persons trying to receive assistance, and those already receiving assistance. Because these investigations are criminal in nature, the data collected is probably classified pursuant to Minnesota Statute 13.82, Subdivision 5. The data in an active criminal investigation is classified either confidential or protected nonpublic as in civil investigations.
Violations of the welfare fraud statutes may have both criminal and civil sanctions. Once the criminal portion is adjudicated or the prosecuting authority decides not to pursue the action, the criminal investigative data may revert to civil investigative data.
When a civil investigation becomes inactive, the data accumulated would become public unless the release of the information would, per Minnesota Statute 13.39, Subdivision 3:
- Jeopardize a current ongoing civil investigation
- The data is classified as not public by the Data Practices Act or another statute
If you feel you know of someone who is committing fraud you may wish to report them. You may wish to report people that:
- Do not report income
- Do not report property and assets
- Falsify information on an application
- Incorrectly report people living in the home
- Lie about where they live
- Misuse of food support benefits or EBT cards
- Receive benefits from more than one state at the same time
If you suspect someone of misusing or abusing Minnesota assistance programs, call the Welfare Fraud Hotline toll-free at 800-627-9977, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. You may remain anonymous.
View more information on the Minnesota Fraud Investigators Association website.