If you have received a Suffolk County Department of Social Services target letter which alleges that you were not qualified for benefits, you should not contact the DSS but to speak to a Medicaid fraud and snap fraud attorney.
If you look at the letter, reproduced below, it even expressly states that you should not call them. It is definitely a bad idea to go to the interview without an attorney. They will act friendly, use the “good cop” routine, and will get you to confess to things that you did not even do and to reveal documents and information which could be used against you in a criminal proceeding should they choose to bring one. They would then use that advantage against you in order to obtain an advantage in a settlement.
They could even trick you into signing a Confession of Judgment (COJ), which gives you no benefit but allows the government to put a lien on your house and garnish your wages and bank accounts.
An attorney can go to the interview with you, and in many cases can help you avoid the interview altogether.
The letter itself is very carefully worded. It contains accurate information and important warnings, but purposely does not mention or glosses over information that may help your particular case. The investigator may pretend to be helpful, but how do you know that they are not just trying to mislead you? Here is the text of the letter:
County of Suffolk Department of Social Services
Office of Special Investigations
This office is conducting an investigation concerning your eligibility to receive public benefits. These services may include one or more of the following programs: Temporary Cash Assistance, SNAP, Medicaid, Child Care and/or HEAP.
Our records indicate that you may have received overpayments to which you were not entitled because of the following:
( ) Family Composition
( ) Unreported Income or Benefits
( ) Unreported Assets
( ) Other
If the investigation uncovers evidence which indicates fraudulent receipt of benefits or services, further action may be taken. An interview has been arranged for you with an investigator. Please report on the following date to the address checked off below:
( ) CORAM CENTER, 80 Middle Country Rd., Coram, New York
( ) SOUTH WEST CENTER, 2 south 2nd St., Deer Park, New York
( ) SMITHTOWN CENTER, 200 Wireless Blvd., Hauppage, New York
( ) SOCIAL SERVICES – Mary Gordon Building, 3085 VEt’s Memorial Highway, Ronkonkoma, New York
( ) RIVERHEAD CENTER, 893 East Main Street, Riverhead, New York
PLEASE DO NOT CALL THE ABOVE NUMBER UNLESS YOU WISH TO RESCHEDULE YOUR APPOINTMENT. THIS MATTER CANNOT BE DISCUSSED OVER THE TELEPHONE.
Any other appointments scheduled by this Agency must also be kept. If you are presently receiving Temporary Cash Assistance, failure to keep this appointment may result in action to close your case. Failure to keep this appointment will not affect your SNAP eligibility.
At the interview, if it is determined that you received an overpayment of benefits or services through fraud or deliberate concealment of a material fact, one of the results may be that you may be requested to sign an Affidavit and Confession of Judgment (COJ). If a COJ is requested and signed, it will be filed with the County Clerk, become a lien on any real property you own within Suffolk County, may be erected upon through garnishment of salary and may be used against you in any criminal, civil or administrative proceeding. You do not have to sign a COJ, however other legal actions may be taken against you.
ALL PERSONS INTERVIEWED HAVE A RIGHT TO HAVE LEGAL COUNSEL OR A LAY PERSON PRESENT DURING THE APPOINTMENT. THERE ARE COMMUNITY LEGAL SERVICES AVAILABLE TO ASSIST YOU.
Please bring this letter, your Social Services identification Card and the following items with you:
PHOTO ID, MOST RECENT BANK STATEMENTS FROM ALL BANK ACCOUNTS, PAY STUBS, TAX RETURNS
Call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233, New York estate, guardianship, wills, trust, Medicaid and probate lawyer, and make an appointment to discuss your DSS investigation.