Growing up, you are taught to share. While sharing isn’t always easy, it has been stated that: “sharing is caring.” But how do fraudsters feel about it? Clearly they aren’t “sharing” wealth with the government when they are stealing from taxpayer-funded programs. What about fraudsters working in a team? According to an article in All Alabama, one couple shared their job, wealth, fraud and punishment.
A judge sentenced an Alabama man to probation after finding him guilty in his involvement with Social Security fraud. Shortly following the sentence, the man’s wife came forward with more information and admitted to participating in the scheme. (I vow to fraud with you, admit to guilt with you and serve probation with you.)
Social Security benefits were created to provide individuals with financial assistance for retirement, or if a person becomes disabled and cannot earn the money needed to survive. And, like all government services and benefits, beneficiaries must satisfy key criteria to be eligible. So, where did the husband and wife team fall short?
The husband, an employee at an Alabama county jail, earned too much money to qualify for full Social Security benefits in the year 2009. Aware of this situation, the husband attempted to attribute some of his earnings to his wife, hoping the government would recognize him as “qualified” for the assistance. (He redefined the definition of “qualified” to include lying to satisfy the eligibility criteria.) As a result of his fraud, the government overpaid the man $5,232. According to court documents, the fraudster’s supervisor at the jail agreed to place his wife on the payroll in 2010, even though she was not working there. The wife endorsed 26 paychecks, 20 of which were deposited into a joint banking account with her husband. (That must be a great job; you don’t have to show up, and you still get paid!) Court records revealed the woman claimed $5,464.68 in 2010 and $8,063.11 in 2011. During the investigation, individuals working within the jail explained that they had seen the woman in the jail every once in a while; however, they confirmed that she never worked there.
Some things are not meant to be shared; in particular, government aid. If you don’t qualify, you can’t get it and you certainly can’t “share” what you aren’t entitled to on your own. Lucky for these fraudsters, they may share a parole officer as opposed to jail time.