Relationship Troubles


There are countless stories of how ex-spouses seek revenge for grievances they have against each other. Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” involves an interesting twist on marital revenge. A Brooklyn woman allegedly assumed the identity of her husband’s original wife and bilked the government out of about $300,000 through an identity scam.

The woman at the center of today’s case claimed to be disabled and was receiving government benefits. At the same time, she was also purportedly working as a nurse under the name and Social Security number of her husband’s first wife.

To bring you up to speed, it’s important to know that one year after the second wife wed her husband, she applied to change her name to the first wife’s name. A year later, she submitted another application to match the first wife’s birth date to hers. (Over nearly three decades, the woman allegedly bilked the government out of $300,000 in Social Security benefits and housing subsidies and supposedly committed passport fraud by using the personal information belonging to the first wife.)

The second wife, who happens to be a 60-year-old grandmother, was considered a flight risk because she tried to escape out of a back window when investigators stopped by her apartment to ask questions. She has since been arraigned on Social Security, passport and housing voucher fraud.

The second wife’s defense attorney tells an interesting story. He says that she had been in an abusive relationship with the husband, but had recently divorced him under Jewish law. (So she was not married under U.S. law?) Since the government was not aware of any divorce under U.S. law for the original couple, it appears that the man had supposedly been married to two women at the same time. (Maybe he forgot he was married to the first wife? It’s hard enough keeping one spouse happy, much less two. What was he thinking?) The lawyer also stated that the second wife frequently had panic attacks and that explains why she tried to run from federal agents. (That’s certainly a creative way to spin things.)

This case is definitely interesting in that the scam went on for nearly 30 years. (I’d like to hear the first wife’s perspective as well as the husband’s.) While the second wife’s marriage with her former husband has gone sour, it also looks like her relationship with the government is going to be on shaky ground as well. Whatever happens in the upcoming court case, you can be sure that the government will not be fooled by any of this woman’s fraudulent relationship games.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”NYC woman steals $300G in benefits through wife identity scam,” published by New York Daily News on February 15, 2017.

A Brooklyn woman pulled an identity switcheroo with here one-time husband’s other wife to bilk the government for decades out of money and housing subsidies, authorities said Wednesday.

Joyce Cohen allegedly was disabled and receiving various benefits for years. At the same time, she was a nurse working under the name and Social Security number of another woman married to her husband. The swindle reaped Cohen at least $300,000 over decades, according to court papers.

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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.