When was the last time you sat down to play a board game? You know, one of those games that give players the opportunity to buy properties to earn money, while offering “chance” cards, such as “Get out of Jail Free” and “Move Forward ‘X’ Spaces.” According to an Office of the Inspector General (OIG) article, there are no “Get out of Jail Free” cards when it comes to real life.
A U.S. District Judge in New York found a local man guilty of theft of public money, accused of stealing Social Security checks that were not addressed to him. (Finders keepers.) An investigation found that the fraudster shared a bank account with his father, who died in 2000. Upon his death, the fraudster neglected to inform the Social Security Administration (SSA) of the circumstances, and instead continued to allow the SSA to deposit Social Security benefits into the shared bank account. For 12 years, the fraudster withdrew the Social Security funds from the shared savings account and spent it, stealing a total of $160,101. (In a game, his chance card would say, “Go directly to jail. Do not pass go – you already have collected your $160k.”)
Considering the 12-year stint of fraud against the federal government, the judge sentenced the man to time served and supervised release. The fraudster will have to wear an ankle bracelet for eight months and repay $160,101 in restitution. The investigation was a product of the Special Agents of the SSA, under the direction of a Special Agent in Charge, SSA OIG.
When you commit fraud like this, it’s only a matter of time until the SSA and similar agencies discover the misuse of benefits. I’m thinking this is a case of a fraudster unfamiliar with board games. You never spend all of your money and put yourself in a bad position. It really is true when I say that life doesn’t provide a “Get out of Jail Free” card.