DCF Staff Recognized with National Distinction for Fraud Prevention

For Immediate Release: August 31, 2015

DCF Staff Recognized with National Distinction for Fraud Prevention

TALLAHASSEE—The Florida Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) Public Benefits Integrity team member Nicolena Ferrentino was awarded the highest honor at the United Council on Welfare Fraud (UCOWF) conference for her work in combating public assistance fraud in Florida.

“Serving Florida’s families is about more than just providing assistance to those who need it most. It is also about protecting the integrity of the program and preventing fraudulent activity and abuse of public benefits,” Secretary Mike Carroll said. “Ms. Ferrentino is a leading example of the exemplary work our team has done to combat fraud in our state.”

UCOWF is a national organization whose primary goal is to strengthen the integrity of our public assistance programs. Each year the organization presents the Dorothy Forney Memorial Award. It is the highest honor given to an individual or an organization in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of fraud control.

Ferrentino has worked at the department since 1988 and holds the distinguished Certified Welfare Fraud Investigator certification. She oversees the Centralized Special Investigations unit in Miami. For the period of March 2014 through January 2015 the unit investigated more than 2,200 cases and produced more than $2.2 million in cost avoidance savings.

DCF’s Office of Public Benefits Integrity has seen unprecedented cost avoidance and increased security for Florida’s public assistance clients. Florida was the first state in the country to implement a front-end customer authentication process, focusing on stopping fraud at the front door.

DCF determines eligibility for federal food assistance and Medicaid programs and conducts front-end fraud protection for individuals applying online. The department works closely with the Division of Public Assistance Fraud at the Florida Department of Financial Services that is charged with investigating and prosecuting retailer food stamp trafficking and other fraudulent public assistance schemes.

For more information about DCF’s public assistance fraud prevention initiatives, or to report suspected fraud, visit www.MyFLFamilies.com/ReportFraud

Contact: Michelle Glady, Press Secretary, 850-717-4450