2 in Hawaii charged with PFD fraud

ANCHORAGE — A Juneau grand jury has indicted an Anchorage couple suspected of illegally accepting more than $36,000 in Alaska Permanent Fund dividends.

Prosecutors contend Brian Faatiliga, 31, and Vaealemasina Faatiliga, 33, lied on their applications for the state checks for 2008 and 2009, claiming they were eligible but living in Hawaii.

Residents who want the dividends cannot be absent from Alaska more than 180 days in the year before applying.

According to the Department of Revenue, the Faatiligas and their six children were in Hawaii receiving government benefits from November 2007 to August 2008 at the same time they applied for Alaska dividends.

An anonymous tip about the Faatiligas led to their prosecution.

The Anchorage Daily News reported the grand jury Friday indicted Brian Faatiliga on four felony counts of fraud, theft and lying on an application. The grand jury indicted Vaealemasina Faatiliga on four felony counts of theft and lying on documents.

The family cashed or deposited a $36,592 in dividends, said Revenue Department spokeswoman Lacy Wilcox.

“They weren’t using this money to buy heating oil, we can assume that,” Wilcox said. “They might’ve been using it to buy sun tan oil.”

The family moved back and forth between Alaska and Hawaii, Wilcox said, and the parents sometimes were in different states. The couple was charged for times when investigators contend that neither parent was in Alaska, Wilcox said.

A conviction could result in jail time and thousands in fines. The Faatiligas also could permanently lose eligibility for dividends.

Revenue Department investigators have presented cases leading to three indictments for dividend fraud this year, Wilcox said.

Investigators last year received about 630 tips of suspected dividend fraud on 1,214 applications, Wilcox said. About 50 were subject to administrative penalties and 18 were recommended for prosecution, she said.

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