There is a special place in a father’s heart for a daughter – it is a special bond that only those two can understand. But, could such a bond translate into fraud? According to a Seattle Times article, the passing of a father led his daughter to defraud the U.S. government and take advantage of a system intended to help those in need.
Nineteen years after the passing of her father, a Washington woman will have to answer for the near two-decade fraud she committed, using the deceased man as the pawn in her fraudulent scheme. (I was just trying to be a good daughter and keep his money in the family!) The case stemmed from an anonymous tip to the Social Security Administration (SSA) in December 2012. An investigation determined that this case is one of the largest Social Security fraud cases ever perpetrated in the State of Washington, nearing more than $900,000 of stolen benefits over 19 years.
Investigators explained the woman neglected to notify the SSA about her father’s death and took action to make sure his Social Security benefits continued to be issued each month. Court records indicate the woman forged documents and even had a man impersonate her father on the phone to keep the benefits rolling in. The judge ordered her to pay $240,000 in restitution. She also received 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release.
Why was she able to get away with this fraud for 19 years? This is a classic example of why agencies need to leverage public records data to authenticate and verify the individual receiving benefits actually is the individual entitled to receive them.