HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Pennsylvania Office of State Inspector General announced this week that 52 people were charged with public assistance fraud during January 2023.

The Inspector General’s office says the individuals allegedly misrepresented themselves and fraudulently received taxpayer-funded benefits to which they were not entitled.

Forty-nine of the cases involve felony charges and three cases involved misdemeanors.

The Inspector General’s office says the restitution owed to the Commonwealth in these cases totals $349,835.

The individuals charged will also be temporarily disqualified from receiving public benefits in the programs they allegedly defrauded.

“We must protect the integrity of Pennsylvania’s public assistance programs, and that’s why OSIG is working to make sure only Pennsylvanians who qualify receive assistance,” said State Inspector General Lucas M. Miller. “I am proud of OSIG’s investigators who help ensure accountability with the Commonwealth’s public assistance programs.”

If convicted, the maximum penalty defendants face for public assistance fraud is seven years in prison and a fine of $15,000. In the case of SNAP, Cash Assistance, or Subsidized Day Care fraud, the individuals also face a mandatory disqualification period from the benefits program they allegedly defrauded.