Attorneys General Perpetuates Biggest Child Support Scam
Regarding http://www.fortbendnow.com/news/1342/bakers-dozen-busted-for-cooking-up-plot-to-write-hot-checks-to-ag-in-return-for-child-support-payments , my letter http://www.fortbendnow.com/opinion/1352/attorneys-general-perpetuates-biggest-child-support-scam appeared in the June 24 issue of the Fort Bend Now:
There is a greater child support fraud than the recent one involving 13 women.
The government would have you believe its involvement in the Child Support Industry is to keep custodial parents off welfare.
Did you ever consider that both parents usually work? In this day and age of booming divorce, only a small fraction of custodial mothers are on welfare.
Consider also that both parents are usually fit to raise a child. So why do courts normally award custody – and child support – to one parent during divorce proceedings?
Perhaps the millions of dollars Washington gives to each state has something to do with it. Each Attorney General in each state receives more money from you, the taxpayer, for every name he can place on his Child Support Registry.
One way to get rid of this child support fraud is to make 50/50 shared custody – and no one pays child support (unless they do not want custody) – the norm in every divorce.
Not only will such a plan prevent numerous types of child support fraud, children will be better off with equal access to both parents.
13 Area Women Accused Of Writing Hot Checks To AG In Exchange For Child Support
by Bob Dunn, Jun 22, 2006, 11 59 am
Thirteen Richmond and Rosenberg-area women whose ex-husbands were behind on child support payments apparently discovered a unique way to get back the money they were owed.
Unfortunately, according to law enforcement sources, their method appears to have involved bouncing about $50,000 in checks, written to the Texas Attorney General’s office.
Fort Bend County Sheriff’s deputies began serving warrants and arresting the women Wednesday, following sealed indictments charging each of them with engaging in organized crime.
Law enforcement sources say that beginning in September of 2005, Tonya Jackson, 32, of the Rosenberg area, hatched a scheme to secure child support payments that were owed to her but hadn’t been paid. She allegedly forged her ex-husband’s signature on a check bearing an account number that wasn’t hers.
Jackson apparently wrote bad checks for child support payments, “knowing the attorney general’s office doesn’t verify checks before sending out child support payments,” said a law enforcement source familiar with the case.
Once she’d perfected the scheme, “Tonya then went on to represent herself to other custodial parents as a worker for the Child Support Division and offered to help them in receiving child support payments,” according to sheriff’s report. “Once they received payment they would give Tonya half.”
According to sheriff’s reports, Jackson or others involved in the scheme opened bank accounts “for the sole purpose of issuing child support payments. The temporary checks issued from accounts with minimum deposits were later closed due to issuance of bad checks. Payments were also issued from accounts that were closed and/or had insufficient funds in the account.”
One law enforcement source said it’s possible to buy blank checks and software at a Wal-Mart store that will allow someone to print sequential checks with a routing number and account number of the buyer’s choice.
Jackson and others involved in the scheme provided the Attorney General’s Child Support Division with bogus checks, an account number identifying the woman owed child support, an “attorney general” number and a case number, law enforcement sources said. The Child Support Division then issued the women child support checks.
But eventually the bad checks bounced, which is how the scheme unraveled. The attorney general began tracing the bounced checks back to ex-husbands who’d been failing to make child support payments.
“The AG would say, the good news is, we’re really glad so see you’re finally paying your child support.” said a source familiar with the case. “The bad news is, your check bounced.”
The ex-husbands then were apparently left in the uncomfortable position of having to explain that they still weren’t making child support payments, but also didn’t write the bounced checks.
When attorney general employees saw that about $50,000 in bounced child support checks had come from the Richmond-Rosenberg area over the past seven months, “it didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this was all one coordinated deal,” one law enforcement officer said.
The Texas Attorney General’s office had no immediate comment early Thursday afternoon.
Beginning in early May, sheriff’s investigators began an investigation into the bad checks, and uncovered the scheme. The matter was taken before a Fort Bend County grand jury, which sheriff’s reports say returned indictments against 13 women including Jackson. However, only 12 people were named in a list of those arrested.
Tonya Lassela Jackson, 32; Bonnie Flint, 50; Sonya Hawkins, 31; Tonya Hawkins, 31; Kasey Nichole Patterson, 27; Michelle Lung, 32; Tranell Girtman, 34; Equilla Gardner, 23; Debra Hodge, 41; Roslynn Fridia, 28; Rosylin McGrew Batiste, 34; Fontella Scott; and Colandra Rena Jones, 33.
Police sources say the women will be jailed unless they can put up $5,000 bond. Because of the amount of money involved, the charge of engaging in organized criminal activity the women face is a second-degree felony carrying a potential prison sentence of two to 20 years, and a potential fine of $10,000.