Lakewood, NJ – One day after four Lakewood couples were arrested for fraudulently underreporting their incomes in order to illegally take advantage of more than $1 million in state and federal benefits, township phones have been ringing off the hook, with hundreds of area residents requesting advice on how to avoid being arrested for public assistance fraud.
As previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2tVBrsb), the investigation was initiated by the FBI and the New Jersey Office of the State Comptroller, later growing to include the Social Security Administration, the New Jersey Department of Treasury and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
More arrests are expected to take place, possibly as soon as early Wednesday morning, reported NJ.com(http://bit.ly/2tW8pbR).
Complaints in the impending arrests involve fraudulent activity that has been taking place for as long as five years and Monday’s arrests appear to be just the tip of the iceberg.
“We are sending a message to this community that the party is over,” said one law enforcement source.
According to the Asbury Park Press (http://on.app.com/2tVVsyG), a law enforcement source who agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity said that dozens of people have called the Ocean County Social Services office asking to discontinue their public assistance benefits or to revise the income information they had previously submitted.
Millions of dollars in public assistance have allegedly been fraudulently distributed in the Lakewood area, said the source.
According to authorities, the investigation into financial irregularities in Lakewood has been ongoing for three years.
Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles said that he was disturbed by the recent arrests and that there are many people in the town who are truly in need of financial assistance.
“I have a waiting list of Section 8 vouchers of maybe 2,000 families that really need it,” said Coles. “I hate to see things like that.”