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Anchorage couple charged with $36,000 in PFD fraud

Alaska Dispatch

According to the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska officials have charged an Anchorage couple with Permanent Fund Dividend fraud for living in Hawaii while collecting two years worth of checks for themselves and their six kids.

State officials contend that Brian Faatiliga, 31, his wife Vaealemasina Faatiliga, 33, illegally collected $36,592, from PFD applications filed in 2008 and 2009, after they had become ineligible.

To be eligible for the yearly dividend, the state requires that applicants not be absent from Alaska in the year prior to application for more than 180 days except for an allowable reason, among other conditions.

State Department of Revenue spokesperson Lacy Wilcox said the family apparently moved back and forth between Alaska and Hawaii, with the parents sometimes in different states, and the fraud charges cover times that none of the family was living in Alaska. The Faatiligas are also under investigation in Hawaii for public assistance fraud, Wilcox said.

A Juneau jury on Friday indicted Faatiliga on four felony counts of fraud, lying on documents and theft. It indicted Vaealemasina Faatiliga on four felony counts of theft and lying on documents.

The charges resulted from an investigation triggered by an anonymous tip. Wilcox said that in 2011, investigators received 630 tips related to suspected dividend fraud on 1,214 applications. Eighteen of those cases were recommended for prosecution, and 15 of them related to residency problems.

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