Fish Tale in Reverse


A fish tale is usually a story that embellishes something that happens, making it seem much more impressive than the experience really was. Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is a fish tale in reverse. A Wisconsin man understated his situation to the government in order to collect $51,000 in Social Security disability benefits he did not deserve.

After a car accident left the man with multiple bone fractures, he began receiving disability checks worth $710 each month. He falsely stated that he did not have any other income except for the disability benefits and the only asset he had was a truck. (Technically, vehicles are depreciating assets, so that doesn’t really count for much, except to make you feel sorry for the guy.)

Meanwhile, the man was actually running a tree service and selling antiques through his eBay storefront. This information was reported to a police detective who opened an investigation into the accusations and found that the man’s eBay account had about $5,000 in sales over a seven-month period. The detective also tracked down the man’s tree service website.

A covert operation began where the man was secretly recorded and observed by multiple people cutting down trees, climbing ladders, driving a Harley Davidson motorcycle and walking without a cane before going to doctor appointments with a cane and parking in handicap spaces. He was also seen driving a convertible car. The owner of an antique mall where the Wisconsin man rented a booth stated that the fraudster made more than $75,000 in sales of antiquities over six years. (Pull out your waders, it’s getting deep.)

In addition to disability benefits, he was also receiving low-income housing assistance. (That’s because he was only reporting the disability benefits as income, not any of the other income he was receiving from trimming trees and selling antiques.) When interviewed by the housing authority representative he denied owning a convertible or motorcycle. (He also fibbed and said he had closed his eBay account and his tree business, turning the businesses over to other people. He had a hard time explaining why both business phone numbers still rang to his cell phone.)

The 52-year-old tall tale teller eventually pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud. He was sentenced to a year in prison and must pay the entire amount he stole in restitution. (Oh yeah, did I mention that the guy had prior convictions for burglary and receiving stolen property?) The criminal’s lawyer was unavailable for comment regarding the man’s conviction. (He must have been out buying waders.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Oshkosh man gets prison for Social Security fraud,” published by the Oshkosh Northwestern on February 2, 2017.

GREEN BAY – An Oshkosh man who collected $51,000 in Social Security disability benefits while running a tree service, selling antiques and riding a motorcycle was sentenced Thursday to a year in prison and ordered to repay the entire amount.

David H. Danielson, 52, applied for SSI disability benefits in June 2009 and began receiving $710 a month based on bone fractures sustained in a car accident.

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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.