Crossing the Line

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If there is a line between accidental and intentional, the subject of today’s ”Fraud of the Day” definitely crossed it. The SunSentinel reports that a Florida woman was recently sentenced to serve one year of house arrest with electronic monitoring, five years of probation, 1,000 hours of community service and pay back more than $239,000 because she fraudulently collected her deceased mother’s Social Security benefits for more than 30 years.

According to the story, the woman pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of government funds. She acknowledged her failure to inform the government that her mother had died in 1984, continuing to allow monthly automatic deposits into a joint bank account. (That adds up to the deliberate collection of Social Security benefit checks more than 360 times over three decades, a full circle of fraud.)

While in the courtroom, the woman stated that she was deeply remorseful for her actions, but believed she initially committed the crime because she was depressed after her mother’s death. She stated that she was having a hard time with her finances while starting up a business that offered wallpaper hanging, carpentry and tile services targeted toward wealthy clients in South Florida. (She did have some standards, claiming she never considered ripping off people she knew even though she had their security system codes. Just all the anonymous taxpayers.)

The story states that part of the reason why this woman will serve no jail time is because of her volunteer work within the community. The judge determined that she could be more of an asset to the community with house arrest and full restitution. (It’s hard to pay restitution if you don’t have a source of income.) Let’s hope that this woman can put her crimes behind her and walk a straight and narrow line in the future.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Broward woman who stole dead mom’s Social Security for 30 years avoids prison,” written by Paula McMahon and published by The SunSentinel on November 24, 2015.

For more than 30 years, Claudia Carpenter quietly ripped off Social Security by accepting more than $239,000 in government benefits that were intended for her mother, who died in 1984.

Carpenter, now 60, of Deerfield Beach, worked hard, spent much of her spare time doing hands-on charitable work for disadvantaged people and didn’t live a lavish lifestyle. But she was a “chronic criminal” who made a decision every month — more than 360 times over 30 years — to continue committing fraud, federal prosecutors said.

“The defendant did this for 30 years,” prosecutor Randy Katz said Tuesday, adding that it was the longest period of government fraud he had ever encountered.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.