You know that old saying, “If you cheat once, you’re likely to do it again?” This advice is extremely relevant to the fraud scene; with people finding new ways to commit fraud, it’s no wonder they will “learn from their mistakes” and try again. Take, for example, a News Times article that discusses how one woman repeatedly collected social security checks on behalf of her deceased family members. Yes, you read that correctly – family members.
A Tennessee woman was recently sentenced to 30 months in prison, punishment for her repeated tendencies to defraud the federal government. For the past 29 years, she spent time cashing in social security checks that were sent to her deceased aunt, who had previously lived with her before her death. (I guess she was so busy cashing the checks that she forgot to mention to the SSA that her aunt had passed away.) Investigators discovered that the woman cashed Social Security checks totaling more than $167,000, sent to her husband’s aunt, who died at the age of 74 in 1982. In addition to her 30 month prison sentence, the judge ordered the woman to pay $167,486 in restitution, as well as serve three years probation post jail time.
While the idea of cashing in on checks of her deceased family member for nearly 30 years may sound bad, the real kicker is that this isn’t her first time committing this type of crime! Investigators discovered the woman had committed a similar crime, to which she pleaded guilty in 2004. She spent five months in jail as punishment for cashing in on checks of another deceased family member. In that case, she collected nearly $75,000 over a period of 13 years. (As long as her family members keep passing, it seems that she won’t need to get a job!) The SSA determined the total loss from this repeat offender was nearly $250,000. (Just think of how many repeat offenders are still out there that haven’t been caught, racking up millions in damages to the government!)
When people commit a crime, get caught and pay their debt to society that should be the end of it. Unfortunately, some fraudsters don’t learn their lesson the first time. That seems to be the case for this defendant. At least she has a 30-month lull in jail to wait for another relative to take the plunge.