Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Decades of Lying

One way that criminals defraud the Social Security Administration (SSA) is by failing to notify the agency about the death of a beneficiary, then they continue to receive and cash the checks of their deceased loved one. Today’s “Fraud of the Day” spotlights two men who failed to inform the SSA that their parents had died. Together, they stole more than half a million dollars from the agency.

One man, who was 70 years old, continued to collect his father’s benefit checks for approximately 34 years. When asked about his father’s location, the man claimed his father had run off with a younger woman and was nowhere to be found. (That’s pretty amazing for a man that was apparently in his 90’s.) His lies enabled him to receive $241,171.60 he did not deserve. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release following the jail time and was also ordered to pay full restitution.

Another man, 68, completed and submitted 11 annual certifications to the Defense Finance & Accounting Services (DFAS) swearing his mother was eligible to receive benefits, even though she was actually dead for more than a decade. He also failed to inform the SSA of her death. He received $271,819 from his mother’s SSA spousal benefits and DFAS survivor benefits. This fraudster was sentenced to 15 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of $254,965.14.

While the SSA Death Master File contains information about many deceased citizens, these two cases show that without proper notification and cross-checking efforts across multiple relevant databases, sometimes Social Security fraud can go undetected for decades. However, there is one thing you can count on – no matter how long it takes, the government will go after those who deceive and steal from those who qualify for and deserve Social Security benefits.

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