Half Full or Half Empty?

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34468054 - social security card and us currency one hundred dollar bill

When asked if a glass is half empty or half full, there can be two answers to the question. Pessimists tend to see the glass half empty, while optimists see it 50 percent full. When applying that reasoning to half-truths, you get something a little different. A Northumberland County, Pennsylvania woman told a half-truth and subsequently found herself in trouble for committing Social Security fraud.

Unfortunately, the husband of the woman from Dalmatia, Pennsylvania died. Today’s fraud article details her life as meager and difficult following her spouse’s death. To her credit, she did tell the truth about her husband’s passing to the bank that managed the couple’s joint banking account. (This is where the monthly Social Security Supplement Security Income was deposited.)

Supplement Security Income, which is funded by general tax revenues, is intended to assist elderly, blind and disabled people who have no or very little income to pay for basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. The Social Security Administration (SSA) explicitly states that beneficiaries must be responsible for reporting changes such as address, living arrangements, income, marital status, citizenship or immigration status, and death, to name just a few. As you already know, today’s fraudster informed the bank, but not the SSA. (Technically, she told a half truth, which is really a lie.)

So, for almost five years after her husband’s death, she unlawfully collected $83,874, or about $1,400 per month in government benefits she did not deserve. (The woman’s public defender argued that the woman got some really bad advice from friends, who encouraged her to keep her mouth shut.) The lawyer painted a bleak picture of the woman who regularly bought used clothing and appliances, grew her own food and relied upon her companion to fish and hunt for the meat they consumed. (So, the judge cut her a break.)

The 55-year-old woman from Dalmatia, Pennsylvania pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud. She was sentenced to two years of probation, which included six months of home confinement with an electronic monitoring device and a curfew that will allow her to keep her job in a nearby town. (That will help her to pay back full restitution at a rate of $50 per month.)

Instead of telling a half-truth, this woman should have reported her husband’s death immediately. The article reports that she spent the undeserved money on household bills and her “ungrateful” kids who took advantage of her. (Perhaps those apples don’t fall too far from the tree in this case.) If anything, this woman should be grateful for the mercy shown by the judge. (If she was an optimist, she could say that her glass is half full.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Woman sentenced for collecting dead husband’s SSI benefits,” posted on pennlive.com on September 27, 2017.

WILLIAMSPORT — A Northumberland County woman who continued to collect her husband’s Social Security Supplemental Security Income for five years after he died was sentenced Wednesday to two years of probation.

Loretta Galloway, 55, of Dalmatia, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann who also ordered her to make restitution of $83,874 at a minimum rate of

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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.