Fraud is a noun that typically carries a negative connotation. And, often times, it is used in an extremely formal way; in the courts, on the news, and on page 78 of the terms and conditions file that nobody really bothers reading. In many aspects, the word is underrated. People generally see it as being so formal, they fail to realize that even the apparently “inconspicuous” immoral acts they do are actually anything but innocent, and perfectly fit the definition of fraudulent.
On a small-scale, someone could photocopy multiple copies of free Burrito Supreme coupons to use at their local Taco Bell. On a large-scale, another person could lie about the amount of people living their household in order to gain more financial aid for college. Of course, the coupon-clipping situation seems less extreme than the financial aid situation, but both fit the definition of fraud, which, according to Random House Dictionary, is “deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.” In other words, getting free burritos is just as fitting of the definition of fraud as receiving undeserved financial aid. Of course, the consequence of using faulty coupons is a simple rejection at the register, not a knocking on your front door by the IRS.
Ultimately, stealing from Taco Bell is like stealing from a baby: it fails to mean much, and a lecture will be the farthest punishment will go. Comparatively, defrauding the government is like stealing from a mother, or the person that has tried to do what is in your best interest. And, that is the straight fact that makes defrauding the government so wrong. Why abuse the privilege that has been so graciously granted to us by a higher power? As Americans, were blessed enough to have programs to help ones that are struggling with their current way of life. We live in a democracy, not a dictatorship, but yet, people still feel the need to rebel, even if the forms are in relations to finance rather than ferocity.
Government-related fraud is not limited to the FSA, or Federal Student Aid. In fact, defrauding the government is extremely common among welfare-recipients. Whether or not this explains why the woman in front of you at Ralphs was using an EBT card but had a designer purse is not exactly my question to answer. But according to the USDA, the United States welfare-based SNAP program, intended to encourage low to no income families to eat healthy, has been the victim of fraud, with convenience stores selling unrelated product to customers- if they simply hand over their EBT cards, or food stamps. “When times get tough, people do desperate things,” Doraid Markus, a lawyer who defends these “suffering” businesses, reported to the Associated Press.
But it seems as if abusing given rights is the last thing one would want to do, especially when it was recently announced that the U.S. government’s debt-ceiling would be raised again. Welfare fraud causes our country to lose over nine billion dollars annually- money that is simply being granted towards those who are not eligible for it. Some may argue that the government makes to “easy” to scam them, and it is true that when applying for financial assistance from the government, applications like FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, make it fairly convenient to lie about your income, household count, and marital status.
Realistically, the government knows whether you are lying or not, and many have been put in prison for it, but perhaps they will opt out on specifically hunting you down for your misdemeanor. When all’s said and done, exemplifying fraud toward the government is no better than exemplifying fraud toward the motherland: they are both equally illicit and immoral.