Capitalizing on the Demise of Others

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Fraudsters are really good at capitalizing on the demise of their victims. (They usually don’t scrutinize when choosing their targets and will often use their own family members to make an illegal profit.) An article posted on tells about an elderly son who failed to report his mother’s death. (It’s highly doubtful that he forgot to do so.) As a result, he collected more than $250,000 in undeserved Social Security benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), ”deceased payee fraud” is one of the most common ways that people illegally collect Social Security benefits. In this case, because the agency was not notified of the fraudster’s mother’s death, he continued to receive a monthly check worth more than $1,500 deposited into a joint bank account. (Normally, the SSA is notified of a beneficiary’s death either by a funeral home, a state agency or a family member. If that doesn’t happen, this type of fraud can continue for a long time.)

The 72-year-old, who collected more than $257,959 over 16 years, pleaded guilty to theft of government funds. He is scheduled to be sentenced.

If this man’s mom was alive today, she would most likely not approve of her son’s fraudulent actions. (Fortunately, the government has stepped in to help with devising an appropriate punishment.) The SSA works hard to prevent this type of fraud and it’s a given that prosecutors will make this man a model for discouraging similar behavior in others who are thinking about capitalizing on their victims’ demise.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Man Admits He Collected Social Security Benefits for Mom 16 Years After She Died,” posted on on August 12, 2015.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Rhode Island man has admitted to collecting over $250,000 in Social Security benefits intended for his mother for 16 years after she died.

Luke Clarke, 72, appeared in U.S. District Court on Wednesday where he pleaded guilty to theft of government funds. He will be sentenced in November, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha.

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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.