Food stamps are designed to be an option of last resort — and to ensure that the working poor, the disabled and children have access to nutritious food each week. While most appreciate and use the help appropriately, some individuals use the system for their own gains, taking advantage of an already burdened social support plan and reaping thousands of dollars for their own purposes.
According to the Associated Press, a Pennsylvania woman has just been charged with doing just that — misrepresenting herself as a low income individual with a family to support, while running a business worth millions. Kimberly Coleman, of Cranberry Township PA, has been charged with multiple counts of welfare fraud for her actions, which resulted in income of over $200,000 over the course of several years.
Coleman, 35 was operating a business that was funded in part by the state’s Department of Human Services; the business received over a million dollars from the agency for operating costs. She has been charged with several counts of fraud, each of which carries penalties of up to seven years in prison if she is convicted.
According to authorities, Coleman’s scam began in 2014 and continued through 2018; during that time, she collected $195,000 in fraudulent benefits from the state. Her business, Lioness Community Care, was intended to provide care and residential services for adults with developmental disabilities in the area. For this service, the Department of Human Services paid out over a million dollars between 2014 and 2017; Coleman and her husband distributed this money into multiple bank accounts. Part of the funds went to Coleman’s lavish residence, leased for almost nine thousand dollars a month.
Despite this high income and established business, Coleman applied for food stamps and welfare in Allegheny County. She did not disclose this income in her application and did not include the business she owned and operated when she requested food stamp and welfare assistance. She was awarded and collected food stamps and other benefits during a three year period, until authorities caught on last year.
Coleman awaits trial, and faces up to 21 years in prison if convicted of welfare fraud.
Coleman is not the first to game the welfare system. Many others have tried, with varying success. From returning to work without notifying the system to running a business or receiving income without reporting it, others in Pennsylvania and across the nation have exploited the already stretched food stamp system.
One Ohio resident, termed the “Food Stamp Millionaire” ran a similar scheme, collecting over $8,000 in benefits by filing a false application and failing to mention other income. Others continue to fly under the radar and make it more difficult for those who are truly in need to access help from the food stamp and welfare program.
~ Patriotic Freedom Fighter