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Renewing Your Membership/CWFI

Procedure for Renewing Memberships and Certifications

Because we have implemented an automated membership and certification renewal process in our new website, there are some unusual steps that have to be taken for first-time renewals.  Please read this closely to understand how the process works.  It’s not difficult; it’s just not immediately obvious.

How the System Works

Renewals (called Upgrades by the automate membership subscription program) can only occur from a status below the Regular Member (or Affiliate Member) level.  Once a membership expires, the member’s status will be downgraded automatically until he or she renews (Upgrades back to Regular Member).  The member will get an automated email advising him or her that their membership has expired.  Once he or she renews, the membership (and CWFI) will be reinstated.  Renewal can be activated immediately by online (credit card) payment of dues.  Offline payments (check or money order) are also accepted but renewal won’t occur until the check or money order is received.

Why the System Doesn’t Seem to Work that Way

When a current member registers at the new website, he or she is upgraded by me to either a Regular or Affiliate Member status.  If that member is also a CWFI, he or she is also upgraded to CWFI at the same time.  Once upgraded, the system assigns a one-year expiration date to that membership and CWFI.  Current members, however, may not have a year remaining on their dues.  (I cannot change the expiration date manually – it messes up the system and can cause it to crash.)

When a membership (and certification) expires, a member’s status is manually reverted to ‘Registered User’ by me.  Since a Registered User status is a lower-privileged status, the member can then upgrade (renew) his or her membership by going to his or her Profile Page and selecting the Membership Details tab.  There the member will be presented with upgrade (renewal) options.  The member will select Regular Membership and click the “Upgrade” button at the bottom of the page.

Once the upgrade button is selected, member is taken to the payment option page and will select either the online payment or offline payment option.  If Online Payment is selected, the member can complete the credit card payment panel and make the payment through a secure (SSL) transaction.  His or her membership (and CWFI if selected) will then be immediately renewed.

If Offline Payment is chosen, the member will be presented with an invoice that must be printed out to activate the renewal process.  That invoice can be provided to your agency for payment.  If you’re writing a personal check or money order, the invoice should be sent along with the check or money order.  If being provided to your agency, ask them to make sure a copy of it is sent with payment so that it is properly credited.  Once received, the payment will be entered and the members status will be upgraded accordingly.

New members or members who have not yet registered but have received notice of renewal should simply register at the site and select Regular membership (and CWFI if appropriate) at the time he or she registers.  The process of payment will then follow the same procedure as above.

Why is the Process Seem Different for Current Members?

The truth is that the process really isn’t different.  The reason that existing members must be manually downgraded is because the membership year is fixed at one-year terms.  I can manually downgrade or upgrade registrations but I cannot change the default term of one year or expiration dates.  Once all members that have registered with time left on their current membership term renew for the first time, there will be no more need to manually downgrade a member’s status – the system will do that automatically.  Renewal will always occur through the Profile Page and the Membership Details tab.

What about Affiliate Members?

Since an affiliate member’s dues are paid by their organization, an affiliated member needs to do nothing unless he or she is a CWFI.  If an affiliated member is CWFI, then the affiliated member will be notified when the CWFI term expires.  That member will have 30 days to submit payment to renew the CWFI.  Once renewed, the Continuing Education report also needs to be submitted along with the payment or shortly thereafter to remain certified.  The renewal process is the same process described above for a regular membership renewal; you renew CWFI through the Profile Page under the Membership Details tab.

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Tax Evasion / Food Stamp Fraud

Brothers accused of tax evasion; wives also face federal fraud charges
BY BRIAN BRUEGGEMANN
Belleville News-Democrat

Two Maryville brothers and their wives are facing federal charges of tax evasion.

The defendants are Robert Todd McKinney and his wife, Belinda McKinney, and John Quinn McKinney and his wife, Chamethele McKinney.

According to the indictment, the brothers tried to avoid paying taxes on income from their business, McKinney Hauling of East St. Louis.

Steve Wigginton, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced the charges Monday.

The Internal Revenue Service filed tax liens against the brothers in 2003. The defendants subsequently engaged in fraud to avoid paying taxes, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges:

* That Robert and John McKinney lied about their ability to pay taxes and concealed assets.

* That Chamethele and Belinda McKinney set up nominee bank accounts that received income from the business, and provided false information on mortgage documents. The mortgages were for a home at 4941 Autumn Oaks Drive in Maryville for Robert and Belinda McKinney, and a home at 22 Seasons Ridge in Maryville for John and Chamethele McKinney.

* That Robert and John McKinney lied to federal agents by saying they resided in East St. Louis.

* That Robert and John McKinney claimed the company had no work or income when they were interviewed by federal agents. But on the same day, they made a deposit of $7,500, and around the same time, they made another deposit of $240,377.

* That the defendants have evaded paying taxes since 1999, and now owe at least $952,000 in income taxes.

* That Chamethele McKinney lied on government applications in 2006 in order to get food stamps.

Each defendant is charged with conspiracy, and related charges. The charge of conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

© 2007 Belleville News-Democrat and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.belleville.com

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Is Your Membership Near or Past Renewal?

In the process of changing websites, no notices for January were sent out in December and none have been sent out for February.  This transition period to the new website has usurped much of my time.  In addition to the website redesign and launch, normal UCOWF business aside from membership notices had to continue.  While members are registering at this site, they are building the membership list (which replaces the Directory).  Some unpaid members have registered and will be allowed to use and evaluate the new site until the old site closes.  At that time, anyone who is past due or is not a prior member will be contacted to determine if they wish to apply/renew their membership.  At $25.00 for an annual membership, we think the benefits one gets from this site far exceed the price of membership.

Once the site is officially launched and the old site closed down, I will begin backtracking and contacting those whose memberships are due or past due.  So if you haven’t been notified, don’t worry – I haven’t forgotten you.

We are including a subscription module in this website that will actually display your membership status in the Member Profile and send out notices automatically.  After a certain period of time if no renewal has been made, your membership is automatically deactivated.  The automated membership renewal notification process is not only for those paying by credit card.  Every member will receive notices and if you or your organization pays by check, then you will still have to mail the check to the Business Office with a copy of the renewal notice (so that your payment is credited properly).

The subscription module will also allow credit card processing through the site and contains a ‘shopping cart’ component.

The shopping cart component is an upgrade over our past credit card processing feature.  The shopping cart will permit grouping purchases in a single transaction.  For example, if you wanted to renew your membership and pay for a CWFI Exam, at the old site it would require you to make two separate purchases with a credit card.  If you wanted to pay for more than one membership renewal or one conference fee, you had to either complete individual transactions or contact me and accomplish the transaction over the phone.  Not any more.

Once our new component is installed and tested, members will be able to make multiple purchases with a credit card in a single transaction.  Doing this is a precursor to opening a UCOWF store through this site that will market UCOWF-branded merchandise.  The UCOWF store will likely appear sometime in the summer of 2011.

For the immediate future, if you know your membership is due, you can still either pay through the old website or send in a check with a renewal form or you can wait until the end of this month when we contact you.  Once contacted, you will have a certain amount of time to make payment to keep your membership active.

We hope this process will improve efficiency and the integrity of our membership listing.  Thanks for being a member of UCOWF.

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2010: A Big Year for CWFI Testing

Last year was a good year for the Certified Welfare Fraud Investigator program.  Ten members successfully passed the CWFI Examination and earned their certification, distinguishing them from their peers as professionals in the area of welfare fraud investigations.

 

In June, UCOWF Directors Rich Nawrot and Maria Schollenberger administered the CWFI exam at the NYWFIA annual training conference.  The following members successfully passed the exam:

  • Michael Grennan has been an Investigations Supervisor and conducting investigations with the Nassau County Department of Social Services in Uniondale, NY, since May 2007.
  • Daniel McCann has been an Investigator with the Oswego County Department of Social Services since September 2005.
  • Robert Milner has been a Welfare Fraud Investigator with the Ulster County Department of Social Services since December 2005

 

In September, the CWFI Exam was administered by CWFI Chair, Paula Kingery at the UCOWF Training Conference in Raleigh, NC.  These applicants successfully earned their certification:

  • Sandra Leonhard, President/Owner of Interstate Reporting Co., Inc., has been conducting investigations since 1998 in Menomonee Falls, WI.  She has a Bachelor of Science/Business Administration degree from Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, WI.
  • Andrew Petitt has been an Investigator with the West Virginia DHHR/OIG/IFM in Princeton, WV since October 2006.  He has a Regents Bachelor of Arts degree from Concord University, Athens, WV.
  • Freda Ashby has been an Investigator with the Buchanan Co. Dept. of Social Services, Grundy, VA since August, 2007.  She has attended Southwest VA Community College.
  • Danita Bragg has been an Investigator with the West Virginia DHHR/OIG/IFM in Beckley, WV since January, 2003.  She has a Bachelor of Science/Education degree from Concord College, Athens, WV.
  • Michael Barile has been an Investigator/Supervisor with the State of Connecticut Dept. of Social Services since 1992.  He has a Bachelor of Science/Business Administration and Master of Science/Political Science/Public Administration degree from Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT, and Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT.
  • Jolynn Marra has been an Investigator/Supervisor with the West Virginia DHHR since 1995.  She has a Bachelor of Science/Marketing degree from West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV.

 

In October, UCOWF Director Julie Jacobson administered the CWFI exam in Colorado, resulting in the certification being awarded to:

  • R. Tom Lopez has been an Investigator with the Logan County Department of Social Service, Sterling, CO, since July 2008.  He has attended Metro State College in Denver, Co; Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, CO; Bailie School of Broadcast in Aurora, CO; and Central Wyoming College, Riverton, WY.

 

Congratulations to our newest CWFIs!

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Out with the Old and in with the New! – The UCOWF Directory has Changed.

The old UCOWF Directory that allowed us to search for members has changed and is no longer the way to find members outside your office.  The old directory was incompatible with the new website.  That incompatibility forced us to find a new way of providing you a way to search for members when you need assistance outside of your office.

The new directory is built on a social networking platform.  While most of the social networking functions have been turned off, it provides you a different (and we think) better way to contact and communicate with fellow members.  Each member now has his or her own profile page.  It is a page that each member can easily edit to update addresses, titles, email addresses and phone numbers.  As you registered for the new site, that information was captured in the membership list.  Not all of the information is published though.  Your username and password are yours and yours alone.

To find and search the membership list, click on the Member Listings link under the User Menu.  There you will find a Search Users link.  You can search by first name, last name, agency, city and state/province.  This is the first advantage over the old system.  It enables you to find a member within a state or province closest to the area you want assistance with.

There is also a new feature titled: Connections.  Connections are contacts – members you do or may contact on a frequent basis.  There are different categories of Connections.  Connections can be listed under Friends, Co Workers, Out of State/Province Contacts, etc.  This way, you do not have to search for your fellow member each time you need assistance or just want to say ‘Hi’.

Since the membership list will ultimately be tied to the membership application/renewal process, information in the listings should be more current than before.