Fugitive Returns to Prison for Identity Theft, Fraud

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USA Passport with Social Security Card, Drivers License and Birth Certificate.

Sometimes committing fraud can lead to bigger things – and not in a good way.

A Kentucky man led a quiet life, working and keeping to himself for four decades. He retired in 2009 and in 2010 filed to receive Social Security benefits. In fact, he received elderly benefits for more than five years – until authorities realized he was not who he claimed he was.

In 2016, police in Georgia developed evidence matching Harold Arnold, 71, of London, Ky., to a man who escaped from a Georgia prison in 1979 where he was serving a 16-year sentence for manslaughter. In that case, Arnold was convicted of shooting and causing the death of a woman he lived with.

After the escape, the former Billy Burchfield settled in the southern Kentucky town and assumed the identity of his deceased cousin, Harold Arnold. He later legally changed his name and date of birth to his cousin’s, but not before illegally using it to get a job and, later, government benefits.

Arnold pleaded guilty to charges of Social Security fraud and aggravated identity theft and was sentenced in January to 31 months in federal prison for scamming the Social Security Administration. A judge also ordered him to repay $83,561 he collected in benefits until 2016.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from the U.S. Justice Department press release, “Laurel County Man Sentenced to Prison for Social Security Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft,” distributed Jan. 28, 2020.

Harold Arnold, 69, of London, was sentenced in federal court on Tuesday, by U.S. District Judge Claria Horn Boom, to 31 months in prison for defrauding the Social Security Administration (SSA) and committing aggravated identity theft.

Arnold previously admitted that, after escaping from custody in Georgia in 1979, he unlawfully assumed the identity of his deceased cousin and moved to Kentucky, where he worked under the assumed identity from 1981 to 2009.  He then applied for and received Social Security benefits, from October 2010 through July 2016.  Arnold failed to truthfully disclose his own identity, applied for benefits using a fraudulent identity; and was a fugitive from justice, rendering him ineligible for the payments that he received.  According to his plea agreement, the total loss to the SSA was $83,561.90, which Arnold has been ordered to repay.

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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.