Recent Social Security Fraudsters Prosecuted by the Feds

Recent Social Security Fraudsters Prosecuted by the Feds

The Department of Justice has been aggressively prosecuting Social Security fraud in 2022. 

Fraud involving Social Security is often prosecuted by the federal government, and federal prosecutors have adjudicated a few significant cases this year.

A Guilty Plea in Mississippi

The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Mississippi announced on Thursday that a Mexican national pled guilty to a federal charge of fraud or misuse involving a visa, permit or other document, with a false Social Security card used as part of the deception.

According to the announcement, the twenty-six-year-old man was arrested in October of last year when police, responding to a 911 call, searched the man’s car and discovered cocaine. The drug arrest led to the issuance of an immigration detainer. After that, multiple documents were found, including a Social Security card that featured the man’s photo but a different person’s name. The man, the office said, “unlawfully used the victim’s information to fill out and support a federal Form I-9 for the purpose of gaining employment.”

The man had already been removed from the United States once and faces deportation yet again. When sentencing takes place in May, the man “faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and 3 years of Supervised Release,” the Department of Justice said.

Sentencing for Man Accused of Stealing Benefits

The government also announced in mid-January that a twenty-seven-year-old man from Georgia had been sentenced to seventy-eight months in federal prison on charges that he “directed the benefits of veterans and Social Security Administration beneficiaries to accounts that his co-conspirators set up and controlled.” The sentence also included a requirement to pay over $1 million in restitution.

The defendant had pleaded guilty in November to conspiring to commit bank and wire fraud.

The conspiracy involved the man and his accomplices obtaining personal information from veterans and Social Security beneficiaries and using that information to open bank accounts and set up debit cards. The scheme also included forged documents that were used to “deposit benefit payments into those fraudulent accounts, instead of the victims’ legitimate bank accounts.”

The scheme took place between 2012 and 2017, with the conspirators attempting to redirect nearly $2 million in benefits from more than 100 victims, although the “actual loss” was closer to $1 million, per a local news report.

A Fraud Indictment in Massachusetts

Also on Thursday, the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts announced that a twenty-seven-year-old man who formerly lived in the state was indicted on several charges, including “two counts of wire fraud, one count of false representation of a social security number and one count of aggravated identity theft.”

The man, who was first arrested last fall, is accused of attempting to rent an apartment using someone else’s name. He was impersonating a man using “the victim’s name, Social Security number, date of birth and a copy of a purported North Carolina driver’s license containing the victim’s information,” while using his own photograph.

The same man is also accused of applying for a Paycheck Protection Program loan under false pretenses. He faces up to twenty years in prison for the wire fraud charge and additional prison time for other charges.

An Idaho Guilty Plea

Another U.S. Attorney’s office announced a guilty plea for charges of stealing from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho announced on Thursday that a thirty-seven-year-old woman had pleaded guilty to a charge of theft of government money.

According to the government, the woman was receiving benefits from the SSA for her son and was told repeatedly that she had to tell the SSA if there was any change in her income. But later, when the woman’s husband began operating a successful painting business, she never notified the government of that change in income as required and continued to receive the benefits.

The woman, as part of her plea, will be required to make a restitution of  $58,079, which was the amount she improperly received between 2014 and 2020. Sentencing is scheduled for April, and the woman faces a maximum of ten years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three additional years of supervised release.

“Misusing Social Security benefits, taxpayer funds, is a criminal and punishable act, which my office takes very seriously,” U.S. Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez, Jr., said in the announcement. “Auditors and criminal investigators will continue to collaborate with SSA and other agencies to identify those who falsify reports for their personal gain. Together with our partners at SSA Office of the Inspector General, we will continue to hold accountable those who commit crimes involving Social Security benefits.”

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.