PARIS —  Two cases of general assistance fraud and three attempted frauds have been uncovered in Norway and Paris since the towns began sharing a General Assistance administrator in June, an official said.

According to Shannon Moxcey, the Community Concepts employee overseeing Norway and Paris General Assistance, two people have been caught receiving benefits from both towns simultaneously, and three other fraud efforts have been thwarted since she took over in Paris in June. 

Moxcey was hired to administer the Norway program in May and was hired in Paris in June. The two towns had previously tried to share some aspects of their General Assistance programs, without success.

Municipal General Assistance helps provide rent, heating fuel and electricity, as well as vouchers for food and other essentials to qualified applicants.

In the first case Moxcey reported, a man who was receiving benefits from Norway as a homeless person was simultaneously listed as a member of a household receiving assistance in Paris.

The main problem, Moxcey said, is there is no central, statewide database that follows General Assistance beneficiaries.

She said she can contact the state Department of Health and Human Services for records on households that receive benefits, but people who are homeless or frequently move easily fall through the cracks.

Without a database to record beneficiaries, it requires some digging to uncover potential abuse, Moxcey said.

In a recent example, a woman who said she was a former resident from Florida attempted to apply for General Assistance in Paris with her partner, Moxcey said.

When Moxcey checked the woman’s Social Security number with DHHS, she was told there was no record, meaning she hadn’t received benefits before.

“I could have left it at that,” Moxcey said, “but I had a feeling.”

She contacted the Department of Human Services in Florida and was told the woman had been receiving benefits as a resident of the state for the entire year. Moreover, the woman had also received benefits from Bangor at the same time.

“If we had just called the state and ended it there, we wouldn’t have known,” Moxcey said.

Apparently the intervention wasn’t enough to prevent another try by the couple. Moxcey said days after the event she received a call from the General Assistance administrator in Bethel, who reported the woman and her partner tried to apply for benefits there as well.

Without centralized oversight, Moxcey said this type of “town hopping” is more common than she suspected.

“I have been surprised, since I assumed the position, by how prevalent it is,” she said.

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