Ilya Marritz covers business for WNYC.
The pension fund that serves retired New York City workers continued to make payments to at least 14 beneficiaries, even after they died, and those payments were received by living persons not entitled to the money, according City Comptroller John Liu.
In total, Liu believes $459,970 was stolen. The case has now been handed over to the Department of Investigation, which will conduct its own probe and consider legal action.
Since February, Liu's office has been probing fraud within the New York City Employees' Retirement System (NYCERS). Examiners have been matching pension payment records against Social Security death records, to uncover instances of alleged fraud.
“This suspected pension fraud wastes the public’s money and undermines security for the city’s workers and retirees," Liu says. "Moreover, it fuels cynicism and distrust about public pensions, unfairly stigmatizing hardworking employees and retirees who have dedicated years of service doing the right thing for the city."
The city's pension funds, collectively are worth about $40 billion, serve roughly 130,000 retirees.
On Tuesday, the Comptroller and the Department of Investigation will jointly hold a conference on preventing fraud in government. DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn says one reason for making this investigation public now was drawing attention to the issue in advance of the conference.