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AG Nessel Charges Dearborn Heights Woman with Welfare Fraud After MDHHS Office of Inspector General Investigation
May 04, 2020
LANSING – A Dearborn Heights woman is facing 14 felony counts, including welfare fraud, for taking public benefits and lying to the state about her economic status, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced today.
The criminal complaint against Tabarak Qaiser Wutwut alleges that from Aug. 10, 2010 through Jan. 31, 2020 she received food assistance, Medicaid and child care benefits totaling more than $159,550 for herself and her minor children. On numerous occasions while she was receiving these benefits, investigators believe Wutwut falsely certified to MDHHS that she had no income, that she had no real property and that she had no bank accounts.
An investigation by the MDHHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) determined that Wutwut owned several houses, she received rent from some of these dwellings and that she had substantial funds in several different bank accounts. Real estate records reflect that she owned a residence in Dearborn Heights that had an assessed value of $300,000, indicating a market value of $600,000. Records further reflect that she purchased this property in 2015 for $776,000, and that she claimed a principal residence exemption for this property. Additional real estate records show that she owned other residential properties in Dearborn Heights and Detroit while receiving state assistance.
“Public assistance is available for the people who need it. Those who cheat the rules by misrepresenting their eligibility do damage to the entire system and should be held accountable,” Nessel said. “I’m grateful for the work done by the MDHHS Office of Inspector General on this matter and my office is committed to ensuring that justice is served.”
MDHHS Inspector General Alan Kimichik said his staff works in partnership with state, federal and local agencies, including the Attorney General’s Office. “The OIG works to ensure public assistance program integrity and accountability,” he said. “When someone commits fraud, it takes away from those in need and taxpayers pay the price. OIG returns those funds to their rightful purpose.”
Based on the MDHHS-OIG investigation, the Attorney General has charged Wutwut with seven counts of welfare fraud over $500; six counts of using a computer to commit a crime; and one count of welfare fraud over $500, failure to report. The welfare fraud counts each carry a maximum penalty of four years imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine. Each count of using a computer to commit a crime carries a maximum penalty of seven years and/or $5,000. The crime of using a computer to commit a crime may be served consecutive to the underlying offense. The counts of using a computer to commit a crime reflect the allegations that Wutwut used the MDHHS MI Bridges system to submit false certifications.
The charges were brought in Lansing District Court because the MDHHS offices are located in Lansing, and payments were obtained from that state agency. Judge Louise Alderson of the 54-A District Court arraigned Wutwut today and granted a personal recognizance bond.
Please note: A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The Attorney General’s office does not provide booking photos; however, one may be available through the booking agency.