Justice Department Takes Down More Social Security Fraudsters

Justice Department Takes Down More Social Security Fraudsters

More people around the country are being caught in Social Security-related crimes.

As spring approaches, more people around the country are being caught in Social Security-related crimes. Here’s a look at some of the arrests, indictments, and guilty pleas announced in recent weeks:

$880,000 Recovered From Scam

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts announced on February 3 that it had recovered $884,755 for the victims of a massive real estate fraud scam.

The perpetrator of the scheme had been arrested in 2017 and convicted the following year on seven counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, one count of misuse of a Social Security number, and one count of tax evasion. In fact, the man had been a fugitive for twenty years before his arrest.

“My office will diligently pursue financial recovery for our crime victims—even years after someone has been convicted and sentenced, we will continue our pursuit,” United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins said of the case. “These ill-gotten gains have finally been recovered and our efforts send an important message that crime does not pay.”

The convicted man has been ordered to pay $69,768 in restitution to the Social Security Administration.

Man Accused of Renting Guns With Stolen Information

The government alleges that a Michigan man who frequently bought and rented guns paid for the scheme with stolen Social Security funds, Fox 2 Detroit reported. The government is claiming that the guns were used in multiple crimes. The man’s girlfriend was arrested for the scheme as well.

"This isn’t the old Blockbuster. You can’t just rent a gun use it for a few days and put it in the bin after you are done with it," ATF Special Agent in Charge Paul Vanderplow told Fox 2.

California Woman Gets Prison For Stealing COVID Relief

A forty-four-year-old California woman has been sentenced to sixty-three months in federal prison for her part in a scheme to file nearly 200 false COVID relief applications in other people’s names. For the scheme, which took place in 2020 after the passage of the CARES Act, the woman has been ordered to pay $4,298,093 in restitution.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of California, the former employee of the California Employment Development Department, “obtained some of the names, Social Security numbers and other identifying information she used to submit the fraudulent claims through her prior work as a tax preparer.”

The fake applications were often for people identified as “cake decorators or event attendants.” One of the false claims was that the claimants, who lived across the country, resided in California

Former Federal Officer Sentenced

A former U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer from Florida was sentenced in January for stealing $75,000 in Social Security benefits meant for his deceased father. He was sentenced to six months of home confinement, one year of probation, and was ordered to make restitution.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, the man collected Social Security retirement benefits meant for his late father, who died in Ecuador in 2010. The man did not notify authorities of his father’s death and continued to collect for nine years. Even after “internal checks” led to a temporary freeze in the payments, the man updated the address and even received back payment.

Woman Sentenced For Stealing Grandmother’s Benefits

Another person from Florida has also been sentenced for stealing a relative’s benefits. According to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the fifty-three-year-old woman was sentenced to spend sixty days in prison and three years on supervised release after she was convicted of theft of government property.

In that case, the woman was accused of stealing $43,672 in survivor’s insurance benefits from the Social Security Administration, money meant for her deceased grandmother. She was ordered to pay restitution of  $43,672.

The woman, the judge in the case said, “committed a serious theft of taxpayers’ contributions to the Social Security system and that the evidence revealed that she had taken premeditated steps to ensure her continued access to Social Security funds to which she was not entitled.”

Florida Man Sentenced for Fraudulent Tax Returns

A thirty-two-year-old Florida resident was sentenced on February 7 to thirty-six years in prison on charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. In 2015, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia, the man “unlawfully obtained the names, dates of birth, and social security numbers of multiple taxpayers without their knowledge and consent,” later using that information to access the IRS’ Online Taxpayer System and file fraudulent tax returns.

The man was ordered to pay $50,801 in restitution to the IRS.

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.

Image: Reuters.