BROWN COUNTY - In Brown County, the possible cases of welfare fraud being investigated are up 25% in a year.
It's part of a now two-year-old effort between the sheriff and human services departments to keep public assistance money in the right hands.
In two years, county officials found more than $1.2 million worth of taxpayer dollars being misused.
"It's really important to uphold the integrity of the program," said Jenny Hoffman with the Brown County Human Services Department. "We want to make sure we are giving assistance to those that are in need."
In Brown County about 25,000 receive taxpayer funded assistance for food, medical bills, child care and energy bills.
In 2011, one sheriff's deputy and about 30 case workers combined to investigate 333 possible cases of fraud. That number went up to 417 cases in 2012 when a second deputy was assigned to focus on the issue exclusively.
"They're extremely busy," said Chief Deputy Todd Delain, with the Brown County Sheriff's Department. "They get multiple tips everyday."
Of the 333 cases investigated in 2011, only 54 resulted in either a criminal case or citation.
In 2012, it was 61 of 417. However, with open cases that number could rise.
"Not everything does turn into fraud," said Hoffman.
"They investigate every tip no matter how small it is, to the big, the biggest tips," said Delain. "That is what takes so much time."
Officials say when it comes to fraud, they have seen everything from people lying about who is living with them, to others claming food stamps of people who have passed away, or even selling food stamps for cash.
"Every time someone takes a benefit they don't deserve, it creates a problem in the budget somewhere else and someone else has to go without," said Guy Zima, a Brown County Supervisor.
Zima says more needs to be done.
"The disappointing part is it seems like the state and feds aren't as concerned about it as we are," said Zima.
County officials did tell us the state's department of health services is in the process of expanding the number of people investigating public assistance fraud.
Anyone who might have information about fraud in Brown County is asked to call the fraud tip line at 448-6378.
After almost 80 years, a piece of naval history is on its way home. A model of the Japanese luxury liner Hikawa Maru is being packed up in Manitowoc and returned to Japan.
Visitors to Green Bay's Neville Public Museum will soon see hours slashed. The county-owned attraction is cutting access starting the first of the year.
An 11-foot-long model of the Japanese passenger liner Hikawa Maru is being sent back to Japan after 34 years at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc.
Area volunteers are making a difference in the community this holiday season. At this time of the year, many people are looking for ways to help their neighbors. The Salvation Army is one of the many places where you can do just that.
For the second year in a row, St. Norbert College could house overflow of homeless people from the St. John the Evangelist shelter in Green Bay.
A memorial fund has been created for a Grand Chute firefighter killed in a weekend car crash.