A 34-year-old former employee of the Social Security Administration has been sentenced to twenty-five months in federal prison on charges of aggravated identity theft and theft of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
The man, who worked in the Syracuse office of the Social Security Administration, is accused of stealing names and Social Security numbers of SSI beneficiaries in order to steal their benefits, according to an announcement from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of New York.
The man admitted that over a year-long period between February 2020 and February 2021, he “opened bank accounts using the names and Social Security numbers of various SSI beneficiaries or their representative payees,” later diverted benefit payments meant for beneficiaries into the accounts that he controlled. He is accused of stealing $103,798.77 from the accounts.
The government says that the man used that money to pay personal expenses, while also purchasing video game systems, airline tickets, and participating in online gambling.
The man “stole from Supplemental Security Income funds while working for the Social Security Administration,” U.S. Attorney Carla B. Freedman said in the Department of Justice’s announcement. “Hard working Americans contributed to those funds to support their fellow citizens who need help. The sentence imposed today represents a measure of justice for that breach of faith and serves as notice to those who might consider similar thefts that they will be held fully accountable for their crimes.”
In addition to the prison time, the man received a three-year term of supervised release and was ordered to pay restitution of the equivalent of the money stolen.
Another Case in Texas
In other Social Security fraud news, a 60-year-old Mexican national has been sentenced in Texas to forty-five months in prison for stealing Social Security benefits.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, the man began claiming Social Security benefits in 2006 and Medicaid benefits beginning in 2012, claiming falsely to be a U.S. citizen. The man, who received $247,477.68 from the scheme, pled guilty to a single count of theft of public money and was ordered to pay that amount in restitution.
“We are pleased with the outcome of this case and thank our law enforcement partners for their diligence in investigating this matter and bringing it to a successful conclusion,” U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff said in the office’s statement. “This office is resolved to investigate and prosecute those crimes where people attempt to steal from finite resources that go to support the most vulnerable in our communities.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.