PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A statewide audit is alleging widespread waste and evidence of fraud in the Pennsylvania Welfare Department’s administration of the program that distributes heating assistance to low-income families.

Auditor General Jack Wagner claims the welfare department was scammed by applicants for aid under the federally-funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program who gave fake Social Security numbers, addresses that didn’t exist, or even filed more than one application for help that was given.

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“You’re talking about tens of millions of dollars that are being misspent that could be properly applied to people who truly need this program.”

Wagner says the audit identified the same kind of problems that a similar review uncovered back in 2007. He says it’s time for the Corbett administration to address the mismanagement of the program and direct someone be appointed to oversee it.

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“This is a $257-million program. It serves over 400,000 Pennsylvania families and we need to get it right.”

Wagner also suggested some of the fraud perpetrated by applicants may be criminal and should be investigated by either the attorney general or district attorneys in counties where problems were identified.

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Reported by Mark Abrams, KYW Newsradio 1060