Fraud Across the Border

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51517785 - padlock and social security card - identity theft and identity protection concept

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits to disabled adults and children with limited income and resources through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. (The program is funded by general tax revenues paid, or in other words, by you and I.) An Orono, Maine woman committed Social Security fraud by not being completely honest about her living situation.

Today’s fraud spotlight shines on a 32-year-old woman who legitimately qualified for SSI benefits while living in Maine. Over approximately 10 years, she was reminded repeatedly that if her address changed, she needed to report her new residence to the SSA. (Here’s where the problem occurred.)

Five years after the woman began receiving the SSI benefits, she got married to a Canadian citizen and moved to Brunswick, Canada where she applied for Canadian citizenship. She didn’t let the SSA know of her move across the border and continued to collect SSI benefits over the next four years. (In total, she illegally collected more than $26,000.)

When interviewed by law enforcement agents, she admitted that she knew if she informed the SSA of her move to Canada that her SSI benefits would be significantly reduced. (She was just hoping that no one would track her down while she had a good thing going. The fraudster had a husband to support her, while making some extra cash on the side from the federal government.)

Not only does the Maine woman need to worry about a significant reduction in her SSI benefits, but she also faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced. That seems a pretty high price to pay for the receipt of $26,000 in benefits she did not deserve. This woman committed Social Security fraud when she crossed the border into Canada and did not report her change of address. (Let this be a lesson to others who aim to deceive the government by crossing the boundary between a legitimate need and fraud.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Maine Woman Pleads Guilty to $26,000 Supplemental Security Income Fraud,” published by Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration on August 31, 2017.

Bangor, Maine: Acting United States Attorney Richard W. Murphy announced that Amanda Harding a/k/a “Amanda Grass,” 32, of Orono, Maine, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to social security fraud.

According to court records, the defendant began receiving Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) payments in 2006. SSI benefits are paid by the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. The defendant was living in Maine when she first obtained SSI benefits. Between 2006 and 2016, the defendant was repeatedly informed that she needed to report any change of address to the SSA. On October 8, 2011, the defendant married a Canadian citizen, moved to Brunswick, Canada, and applied for Canadian citizenship. She resided in Canada from October 2011 through February 2016. The defendant did not inform SSA of her change of address and illegally obtained over $26,000 in SSI benefits. During an interview with law enforcement agents, the defendant admitted that she understood if she told SSA that she moved to Canada her SSI benefits would be significantly reduced.

 

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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.