TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) --Welfare fraud comes in many forms, and assistant district attorney David Alavezos says it's a problem everywhere, including Tulare County.
Eighteen people were arrested during a welfare warrant sweep last week. From Dinuba to Pixley, the amount of alleged fraud committed totaled more than $110,000.
"It's taxpayer money," Alavezos said. "People are stealing it and we don't accept that and we look to limit it."
Fraud can be committed through cash payments or EBT cards. The major source of fraud in this sweep was misreporting income.
"They may underreport their income or not report income that they're making off the books," Alavezos said. "They may be getting aid because of children that are not actually in the home-they're with grandparents. They may not report that a person is actually living in the home who has a job and who is helping to support the kids."
So children can sometimes be used, and Alavezos says the more people steal, there's less money available for those who really need assistance. Just as the kinds of welfare fraud can vary, so too can the consequences for them.
"People can be placed on probation, they can do county jail time, they can do state prison time, they are going to be ordered to pay back the amount of money that was identified as being stolen," Alavezos said.
In 2015, D.A. investigators filed 100 cases of welfare fraud, totaling more than $600,000. Also last year, the D.A.'s office reviewed almost 2,400 reports of welfare fraud in the county.
If you'd like to report fraud, you can call 559-623-0250.