DHS considers creating child care fraud department - KMSP-TV

DHS considers creating child care fraud department

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  • Investigators: Day care deception?

    Investigators: Day care deception?

    Wednesday, February 27 2013 12:11 AM EST2013-02-27 05:11:28 GMT
    What began as an anonymous tip to the FOX 9 Investigators evolved into three months of digging to expose a business that some of its own employees claim is misusing millions of taxpayer dollars.
    What began as an anonymous tip to the FOX 9 Investigators evolved into three months of digging to expose the story of business that some of its own employees claim is misusing millions of taxpayer dollars.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

One day after the FOX 9 Investigators broke the story of a Twin Cities day care business suspected of committing massive fraud, the state department that oversees such programs says it wants to crack down on cheaters.

"We've got to be more aggressive in investigating fraud," said Lucinda Jesson, commissioner of the Department of Human Services.

It may be hard to believe, but DHS currently doesn't have its own fraud unit to investigate day care providers accused of scamming the system -- but that may change soon.

This year, the agency will pay out over $200 million to help low-income families access child care -- yet it has no clue how much of that money ends up in the hands of crooks.

The FOX 9 Investigators spent three months investigating Deqo Child Care centers in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Apple Valley. According to company insiders, Deqo was actively recruiting women who were eligible for government assistance and offering them jobs at the centers.

Yet, the informants who spoke with FOX 9 explained that only a small percentage of the mothers hired did any real work. Nevertheless, Deqo was still billing the government for watching their kids.

"Sometimes they would come in, sign in their children, sign themselves in and go grocery shopping," one informant said.

Sources also explained that the more children a woman had to enroll in child care, the more Deqo paid her per hour even though she held the same job title as other mothers.

The FOX 9 Investigators discovered that Deqo is eligible to receive nearly $100,000 in public funds every two weeks.

Deqo's owner, Yasmin Ali, is now the focus of a criminal investigation. Government agents recently raided the company's offices, seizing computers and boxes full of records.

Jesson declined to discuss the Deqo case, but she is openly promoting the idea of creating a child care fraud unit in the department.

"Any dollar that's lost to fraud is a dollar that's taken away from poor children," Jesson said. "It's literally stealing from the mouths of children."

Gov. Mark Dayton wants the Legislature to set aside $300,000 so DHS can hire six fraud investigators. If that happens, the new unit could be up and running later this year.

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