Officials: Woman claimed to live in NYC as she collected benefits for years. She was in Calera the whole time

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NEW YORK CITY (WIAT) — For years, a Calera woman lied about living in New York City, fraudulently collecting over $122,000 in benefits in the process, according to the New York State Inspector General’s Office.

In a press release sent out Wednesday, New York State Inspector General Letizia announced the arrest of Latonja Serling, 57, who has been charged with two counts of second-degree larceny, second-degree welfare fraud and two county of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

“For years, this individual allegedly lied about her residence, employment and other matters so she could receive more than $120,000 meant for those New Yorkers who depend on these important social safety nets,” Tagliafierro said in the statement. “We will not tolerate the actions of those who misrepresent themselves in order to steal benefits reserved for others truly in need.”

According to the release, the Office of the Welfare Inspector General received a complaint in November 2018 alleging that Serling was committing welfare fraud and collecting benefits through the New York City Human Resources Administration. An investigation concluded that since November 2012, Serling had claimed her residence was on West 112th Street in New York City, when she was actually resided in either Birmingham or Calera. It is alleged that Serling used two different Social Security numbers and misrepresented her residence to obtain $52,646 in rental benefits through a NYCHA program.

OWIG also determined that Serling failed to report her employment income, her marriage, and the income of her spouse, which are all required for reporting to HRA.

Officials say Serling allegedly collected $21,664 in SNAP benefits and $48,240 in Medicaid benefits, totaling $69,904. She also allegedly took $52,646 in NYCHA rental assistance. In total, Serling received $122,550 in benefits.

A court date has not been set yet.

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