A Real Firestorm

26630523 - closeup of social security cards and money

There’s a famous saying, “fight fire with fire,” but in today’s Fraud of the Day the story is about fighting fraud with justice, as a Bartlett, Tennessee man found out (the hard way). According to the article (and the actual indictment and evidence presented in court) the Tennessee man lied about his late wife’s role in financially supporting his two daughters, resulting in over $60,000 worth of Social Security fraud.

Here’s how the fraudster got in hot water. After his wife passed away, the man – who was a Memphis Fire Department lieutenant (hence the fire puns) – applied for and received Social Security benefits on behalf of his two daughters. He falsely claimed that his daughters lived with him and his late wife, who was their stepmother. He also claimed she provided for the girls’ every need. (What a thoughtful father, using his daughters’ names to commit fraud. Just what every child wants.)

After being found guilty of Social Security fraud, the Bartlett man was sentenced to two years of probation and six months of home confinement, followed by community service requirements. He must also pay $60,528 in restitution. (This judge got it right. Make the fraudster pay back every penny that he stole.) And the kicker? The man has been relieved of his firefighting duties with pay pending an administrative investigation. (What needs to be investigated? He was found guilty in a court of law!)

In a statement, U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, “One of the primary functions of this office is to protect the United States Treasury, and the ability of eligible beneficiaries to receive Social Security benefits. Fraudulent schemes and crimes of dishonesty do not pay, and will be exposed.” (Hallelujah. It sounds like this fraudster was caught in a firestorm.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Memphis fire lieutenant sentenced for defrauding Social Security Administration,” published by Memphis Commercial Appeal on November 30, 2018.

A Memphis Fire Department lieutenant who fraudulently collected more than $60,000 in Social Security benefits for his daughters has been sentenced to two years of probation and six months of home confinement.

Phillip Tolbert, 47, of Bartlett, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes Jr. and will serve the first six months of his sentence in home confinement, followed by community service. Tolbert also was ordered to pay $60,528 in restitution.

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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.