When it comes to applying for and receiving government benefits, our identities play a pretty important role. On paper and online our Social Security numbers (SSN), our birthday, our name and our address define who we are and, frankly, where the agency should send the checks. So, it is not surprising that some of the most common forms of fraud involve stealing someone’s identity. And, it sounds like that’s the case in today’s Fraud of the Day from The Register Guard about how one woman took on multiple identities, committing multiple types of fraud.
The article reports that the defendant admitted last summer “to earning wages under one Social Security number while obtaining $4,100 in federal disability benefits and $6,734 in state food stamps under another.” (Where did the second SSN come from?) According to prosecutors, she acquired (stole) a false SSN to go on the run with her husband, who fled before his sentencing as a sex offender. (This just keeps getting worse.)
The defendant’s husband, whose last name is Millar, worked in Oregon for years under the last name “Miller” “before his indictment last year for unlawful use of a Social Security card and being in possession of a firearm.” Court records say he “used someone else’s identity to fraudulently obtain more than $43,000 in unemployment benefits.”
So, where does this leave us? The defendant was sentenced to four months of home detention and five years of probation related to the Social Security disability and food stamp fraud. Her husband was sent back to Arizona and received a year in jail and five years of supervised probation related to the sex abuse charge – that’s the original sentence he agreed to in the 1986 plea deal before he skipped town. Since finishing that sentence, he’s been returned to Oregon to face federal charges.
Between the two of them, they racked up charges relating to Social Security disability fraud, food stamp fraud, unemployment fraud and unlawful use of a Social Security card – and those are just the fraud-related charges. Each fraud case is linked to identity. So, what’s the key to preventing the types of fraud mentioned in this article? Verifying and authenticating the identity of the benefit recipient before sending the checks, which can be done by leveraging public records and data analytics. So, what are we waiting for?