Deep-Sixing Fraud

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40194003 - elderly woman using a walker at home.

It’s pretty atrocious when a fraudster takes advantage of a deceased person’s identification to collect undeserved government benefits, but when someone uses their own family members to line their pockets with cash, that’s pretty low too. An article published by the Knoxville News Sentinel tells the story of a woman who used her two dead aunts to live a pretty nice life, unbeknownst to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The article states that for approximately 19 years, the niece cashed almost $250,000 in Social Security benefits intended for her two deceased relatives. One of the aunts lived with the woman up until her death. Two months following that aunt’s death, a second aunt died. (Obviously, the niece did not notify the SSA of either death and continued to collect the benefit checks, which arrived in the mailbox each month.) The woman cashed the checks by forging her aunts’ signatures.

It took the SSA 11 years to figure out that something was amiss. The niece was arrested and sentenced to five months in jail followed by three years of supervised release for collecting benefits for the second deceased aunt. All the while, she continued to collect SSA benefits for the first aunt, even while under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office. (The woman actually moved to a different location, but kept the first location so she could continue to collect the first aunt’s benefits checks. Now that is devious.)

Another seven years passed and the local Social Security office realized that the first aunt would be 103 years old, if actually alive. That discovery led to the niece’s investigation and arrest for the second time. She was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to repay the SSA $243,000 for her fraudulent activities. What are the odds that we’ll ever see that money?

She tried to appeal her conviction. Fortunately, the appellate court deep-sixed her request citing that she had no right to complain due to her plea deal. (Finally, it looks like justice is served in this case.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Hawkins County Woman Stole Dead Aunt’s Benefits Under Nose of Federal Authorities,” written by Jamie Satterfield and published by the Knoxville News Sentinel on October 16, 2014.

For 19 years, Dinsmore ripped off the Social Security Administration by forging and cashing nearly a quarter-million dollars in benefits checks the agency sent to two of her dead relatives. Now, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is deep-sixing a bid by Dinsmore to escape her 30-month federal prison term.

The appellate court, which reviews federal cases in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan, late last week tossed out Dinsmore’s appeal of what is now her second federal fraud conviction, ruling she gave up the right to complain when she took a plea deal.

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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.