Flirting with Fraud

26082954 - social security card, money and stock market numbers

The Social Security Administration (SSA) pays Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to disabled or blind adults and children who have limited income and resources. SSI also provides monthly benefits for individuals 65-years-old and older who are not disabled, but meet the financial limits. A woman from St. Mary’s, West Virginia committed Social Security fraud by illegally collecting about $437 per month for more than 10 years.

Today’s fraudster collected nearly $55,000 of taxpayer funded money through her ruse that lasted more than a decade. (Her greedy actions diverted the money from being received by those who qualified for and deserved the SSI payments.)

SSI payments are a safety net to many vulnerable citizens, but the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General reports that fraudsters prey upon the government benefit program in 11 common ways. The West Virginia woman highlighted in today’s fraud article apparently used the top two methods – making false statements on claims and concealing facts or events which affect eligibility for social security benefits.

Just about anyone who knows right from wrong knows that making a false statement on a government benefits claim is just flirting with disaster. The article doesn’t provide many details, but we can surmise from the facts that she left out some important information on her application, tried to conceal the real information, then lied to a federal agent about her situation. (Why do fraudsters not understand that when they flirt with fraud, consequences follow?)

The 57-year-old woman admitted to collecting social security benefits under false pretenses and pled guilty to Social Security fraud for stealing government money. While she faced up to 10 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $250,000, she was sentenced to five years of probation and must pay $54,678.90 in restitution for her crime against the SSA. (Sounds like she got off easy for a crime that went on for more than a decade.)

With more than 8.2 million people receiving more than $4.7 billion in SSI payments (an average of $550.89 per month) as of February 2018, it’s easy to see how fraudsters may think that a little fraud here and a little fraud there would not be detected. As you know, the government doesn’t flirt with fraudsters. Let’s hope this West Virginian has learned her lesson that when the government says “no” to fraud, “no” means “no.”

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an Office of the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration press release entitled, “West Virginia Woman Pleads Guilty to Social Security Fraud,” released on October 13, 2017.

CLARKSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – A St. Marys, West Virginia woman has admitted to a theft charge, Acting United States Attorney Betsy Steinfeld Jividen announced.

Anne Louise Hall, age 57, pled guilty to one count of “Theft of Government Money.” Hall admitted to collecting social security benefits under false pretenses. The crime occurred from October 2006 to March 2017.

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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.