Posthumous Fraud

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38799675 - hundred dollar bills on wood table

Some awards are given posthumously. For example, the prestigious Medal of Honor recognizes soldiers who went above and beyond the call of duty while serving their country. Since many of the recipients died during their acts of valor, the medal is often awarded posthumously to the soldier’s next of kin. A story published in the Eagle Tribune tells about a man who stole nearly $150,000 in Social Security benefits awarded posthumously to his father. (This was definitely not something that brought honor to the family name.)

The article states that the government benefits continued to be deposited in a joint account in the names of the father and the son for more than a decade following the father’s death. (Obviously, the benefits should have stopped when the father died, but there are times when relatives do not report a death and continue to receive undeserved payments.

This case was investigated as part of a joint effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Social Security Administration to eliminate posthumous fraud. The story explains that posthumous fraud is often detected through the Medicare Non-Utilization Project, which investigates Medicare beneficiaries who are at least 90 years old and have not used their Medicare Part B benefits for three or more years.

The 60-year-old son pleaded guilty to theft of public money and is scheduled for sentencing.

In this case, no valor was shown, just cowardice on the part of the son. (However, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is worthy of a medal for investigating and prosecuting several unrelated cases through the Medicare Non-Utilization Project involving more than $1 million in stolen government money since October 2013.) Kudos to the agencies involved in this process. It sounds like a very promising method for tracking down and prosecuting posthumous fraud.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled ”Andover Man Pleads Guilty to $149K in Social Security Fraud” published in the Eagle Tribune on January 23, 2015.

BOSTON – An Andover man pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing more than $149,000 in Social Security benefits which should have stopped when his father died more than a decade ago.

Graeme Griffith, 60, pleaded guilty to theft of public money. U.S. District Court Senior Judge Mark L. Wolf scheduled sentencing for April 16. In January 2015, Griffith was charged in a felony Information.

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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.