A new state investigative unit is doing similar work to what Watchdog 10 has been doing – tracking down daycare providers that steal thousands of dollars.
“We will find you and we will catch you,” said Ben Johnson, State Jobs and Family Services spokesman.
Johnson is talking about a new investigative unit that crunches electronic data to find child care providers who appear to be ripping off taxpayers.
“The data doesn't lie,” he added.
Four undercover detectives spend some of their time in the field. Then, they look for stories of fraud told by swipe cards and found in the piles of data they produce.
Parents use the cards to check their kids into daycares paid for by tax dollars. But sometimes the daycare providers get a hold of the cards and swipe them when kids aren't even there.
Jobs and Family services files obtained by Watchdog 10 show a woman who was operating a daycare out of a Cleveland building was swiping in kids when they were not even at her daycare - 99 percent of the time. The report also found that 98 percent of the time, she checked the kids in on days her daycare was not even open.
“This provider was clearly defrauding the system, and we put a stop to that,” added Johnson.
The state yanked the woman's license and forced her to repay more than $20,000. She is not the only provider in trouble.
Former daycare provider Jazmin Rodriguez Demota recently pleaded guilty to three felonies following a Watchdog 10 Investigation. She was billing the state for nearly a $100,000 a year, but when Watchdog 10 put her under surveillance for two weeks, virtually no kids showed up.
Watchdog 10 broke the story just a few months before the state started its computer tracking unit. Johnson said his department had planned to launch it before Watchdog 10 exposed Demota, but the story still helped.
“Stories like the one you did illustrate how necessary this was,” said Johnson.
The Department of Jobs and Family Services is proud to point out that it was just audited by federal authorities.
In those areas audited, the department said it fully complied with federal guidelines on how to do business.
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