Hindsight is 20/20

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49329562 - cardboard boxes on work place in post office

A rather silly scam carried out by a pair of New Yorkers to feign blindness, all so they could freeload on public disability benefits, showed a clear lack of foresight. A press release published by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of New York division, details how a man and a woman conspired together and conducted an elaborate scheme to lead the Social Security Administration (SSA), the New York Workers’ Compensation Board and Travelers Insurance into believing that the male co-conspirator had been made blind by an on-the-job injury.

The pair went to great lengths to make a convincing case for disability-through-blindness. After designating the male scammer to give the performance of a lifetime, his female co-conspirator ”guided” him into related medical examinations and hearings, submitted fraudulent documentation, purporting that his newfound blindness inhibited him from carrying out daily tasks without help, and collected public benefits checks on his behalf. (At least they didn’t drag an innocent service animal into their crimes.)

But the government saw right through their antics and launched an investigation. Subsequent video surveillance show the man driving around town and conducting his daily rituals, like hitting the gym and shopping without any assistance. Some of the videos even capture his co-conspirator accompanying, but not guiding, him. (A new take on ”seeing, and being seen.”)

The two were hauled before a jury, which found them guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, five counts of mail fraud and theft of government property. The presiding judge sentenced the man to 57 months in prison, followed by three years of probation, and ordered to pay $27,784 in restitution to the SSA. The woman was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $27,784 in restitution to the SSA.

Potential fraudsters beware: Lady Justice wears a blindfold to demonstrate impartiality, not lack of vision. She’ll see right through you.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on, ”New York Woman Sentenced For Federal, State Disability Fraud,” a press release published by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of New York on April 20, 2016.

A jury found McCarten and co-defendant John W. Caltabiano, Jr. guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, five counts of mail fraud and theft of government property.

The pair conspired to steal benefits by falsely representing that an on-the-job injury had left Caltabiano almost completely blind. The evidence at trial established that McCarten guided Caltabiano into medical exams as if he could not see and she completed and submitted forms claiming that he could not drive, manage his own money or move without assistance.

In videos presented at trial, Caltabiano was able to drive, shop, go to the gym, and otherwise move about without assistance.

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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.