Family Ties

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36197500 - frustrated young business man working on laptop computer at office

In an ideal world, a functional family is supposed to be a positive and loving support system that sustains members through both easy and tough times, while offering wisdom and guidance that encourages sound decision-making. On the other hand, a dysfunctional family thinks they are loving and supportive, but usually enable faulty thinking and bad behavior. A story in The Amarillo Globe-News describes a case where dysfunctional family ties influenced a sister-in-law’s decision to aid and abet her brother-in-law in collecting Social Security disability benefits.

The article reports that the sister-in-law and her husband owned a concrete business and after becoming ill, the husband asked the brother-in-law to come and work for the family business. The brother-in-law, who happened to be a recipient of disability benefits, decided not to report his extra income and requested that his salary be payable to his wife. (That’s a definite no-no and can disqualify you from receiving Social Security disability benefits.) Court records showed that he was already receiving $1,684 per month for his disabling condition. (It was definitely a situation where the philosophy ”you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” was in play. The sister-in-law’s husband was ill and needed the help, while the brother-in-law was happy to lend a helping hand to support his extended family while making a few extra bucks. A win-win situation, so they thought.)

The brother-in-law ended up pleading guilty to illegally receiving government assistance payments and was sentenced to 10 months in prison. He was also ordered to pay $42,000 in restitution for his part in the Social Security fraud. His wife and sister-in-law also pleaded guilty for their parts in the scam. The women, who have yet to be sentenced, also may be expected to pay restitution for their part in the crime.

All families have problems, some more than others. This particular family blurred the ethical line between protecting and supporting their members and committing a crime, which landed them all in some serious trouble. Perhaps the next time they decide to run a family business, they’ll think twice about hiring from within.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Man Sentenced to 10 Months in Government Fraud Scheme,” written by Jim McBride and published in The Amarillo Globe-News on August 16, 2013.

AMARILLO – U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson sentenced a man on Friday to serve a 10-month federal prison term for his part in a scam to illegally receive government assistance payments.

Ricki Dale Wilcox also was ordered to pay more than $42,000 in restitution to the federal government after he pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud and aiding and abetting.

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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.