In the United States, a welfare system has been established to provide struggling individuals with the financial assistance that they need to survive. However, some people have discovered ways to take advantage of this system and obtain government funds when they are able to earn an income.
When individuals take advantage of the welfare system in this manner, it is known as welfare fraud. Welfare fraud is a serious criminal offense, and therefore, it can be addressed with a criminal conviction and criminal sentencing. The penalties for welfare fraud vary from one state to another. It is possible for an individual to be incarcerated as punishment for welfare fraud.
However, more commonly, an individual will be placed on probation and he/she will be required to pay restitution fines for his/her actions. The required restitution payments may total a significant amount of money, and therefore, may cause financial stress for the offender.