Social Security Fraud: Couple Gets Prison Time Together
The husband and wife were each sentenced to six months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, and they were ordered to pay restitution of $167,756.
A husband and wife from Arkansas were sentenced this week to federal prison for the crimes of theft of government funds and aiding and abetting, in connection with a scheme involving Social Security.
The husband and wife were each sentenced to six months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, and they were ordered to pay restitution of $167,756.60. The husband had continued to collect Social Security while working, and his wife had “aided and abetted” that crime, the Justice Department said.
“The Social Security Administration is set up to make funds available to those who are truly in need because of a disability. However, through their criminal conduct, Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz lined their own pockets with this money that was intended to help those with legitimate disabilities,” U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes, said in the announcement of the sentencing. “Our office will continue to pursue fraud cases such as this one and will continue to seek to protect programs like this, which are designed to help some of the most vulnerable members of our society.”
Also this month, a grand jury in California returned a four-count indictment against a business owner who is accused of “making false tax returns, and concealing a matter with an intent to fraudulently secure Social Security disability benefits.”
According to the Justice Department, the man reported little taxable income despite owning a business, but still collected Social Security disability benefits, to the tune of $90,000. He also served as chairman of an organization called the American Labor Alliance (ALA), but caused the organization to pay for massive personal expenses, including “over $50,000 to dating and escort websites and $120,000 in rent.”
The same man had been charged with fraud and money laundering in a separate case.
The New York Post reported Tuesday that a seventy-seven-year-old “granny” was arrested earlier this year for collecting unearned Social Security benefits for more than three decades totaling more than half a million dollars. She was caught, the newspaper said, after facial-recognition technology noticed something off during a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The software noticed that the woman’s photo was associated with both her own Social Security card and the two bogus ones. The woman even had separate bank accounts and other documents associated with all three identities.
“This sentencing should stand as a warning to those who are thinking of defrauding the Social Security Administration to receive benefits – we will hold you accountable,” Sharon MacDermott, head of the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General in New York, said in a statement published in the Post.
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.