More Americans Face Charges For Social Security Fraud
The scams included Social Security and IRS impersonation, as well as loan fraud.
Another week has brought more announcements about people caught, arrested for, indicted for, or pleading guilty to crimes involving Social Security. A roundup of the latest:
Two Social Security Numbers in Maryland
A seventy-two-year-old Maryland woman has been hit with federal charges alleging that she received Social Security under two different numbers after prosecutors say she falsely claimed that her deceased husband was still alive. The woman, charged by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, was brought up on charges of theft of government property and Social Security fraud.
The woman, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a press release, “allegedly obtained two social security numbers and did not report to the Social Security Administration or the State of Maryland that she was receiving widows insurance benefits (WIB) payments under another social security number.” As a result, the prosecutors said, she illegally received $89,085 worth of supplemental security income (SSI), Medicaid, and Food Supplement benefits.
Prosecutors allege that the woman got her first Social Security number in 1973, and got another the same year, under her married name. She also never disclosed to the Social Security Administration that she was collecting benefits under two names and Social Security numbers. She faces, per the U.S. Attorney’s office, “ a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for theft of government property and 5 years in federal prison for social security fraud.”
India-Based Call Center Indicted For Phone Scams
The Justice Department last month announced a superseding indictment of multiple calls centers located in India, alleging that “each of them conspired with the previously–indicted VoIP provider E Sampark, and its Director, Guarav Gupta, to forward tens of millions of scam calls to American consumers.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, the scams included Social Security and IRS impersonation, as well as loan fraud. The Social Security scam, the prosecutors said, entailed callers in India impersonating federal agents in order to “mislead victims into believing that their Social Security numbers were involved in crimes,” and eventually threatening to arrest the victim if they don’t send money. Some who fell for the scam sent money to the scammers, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
“Scam robocalls cause emotional and financial devastation to victims, particularly our vulnerable and elderly populations,” U.S. Attorney Kurt Erskine said in a statement. “These India-based call centers allegedly scared their victims and stole their money, including some victims’ entire life savings.”
“The defendants engaged in multiple scams, often targeting the most vulnerable members of society,” J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, said in the announcement. “The success of this investigation is the result of a collaborative effort between TIGTA and the dedicated staff at the United States Attorney’s Office.”
Michigan Man Accused of Using Stolen Social Security Number to Buy Cars
Federal authorities have accused a man in Michigan of using a stolen Social Security number to steal a large amount of money from various financial institutions and using the money to buy “more than a dozen vehicles.”
According to MLive, the forty-year-old man fraudulently obtained $201,080.12 and used it to buy fifteen vehicles, including “trucks, motorcycles, and off-road vehicles.” The man made none of the payments associated with the loans, resulting in a “total loss” for each financial institution.
The fraud took place in ten separate transitions through different financial institutions throughout Michigan. The man was charged last year, but the case only appeared in the media now, as a result of his court hearing taking place. He was caught when a Genesee County Sheriff’s lieutenant contacted the person whose Social Security number the man was using.
The man, a Secret Service agent wrote, “admitted to participating in a scheme to obtain vehicles fraudulently.” He was charged with identity theft, aggravated identity theft, and bank fraud.
Rhode Island Woman Accused of Defrauding Government
A forty-three-year-old Rhode Island woman has been accused of defrauding the federal government out of over $40,000 in Social Security Supplemental Security Income benefits, by claiming to have custody of a child who did not live with her.
According to Patch, which cited the U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island, the woman collected benefits for nearly five years, between 2011 and 2016, telling officials that she was using the benefits for the child’s needs. The woman collected $42,000, prosecutors said, for personal use.
The woman was charged with bank fraud, theft of public funds, and aggravated identity theft, although she pleaded not guilty.
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.