Hammering Out the Details

20067797 - w2 tax form and social security cards

Social Security disability benefits are paid to individuals who have become disabled prior to retirement age and are unable to work. Beneficiaries qualify to receive disability payments on a monthly basis when they have worked for a certain number of years in a job where Social Security or Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes were paid. A construction worker from Exeter, New Hampshire designed a Social Security disability fraud scheme to steal thousands of dollars in benefits he did not deserve.

According to public records, the construction worker from New Hampshire began receiving Social Security disability benefits in January 2007. One year later, the man was self-employed as a construction worker. (But, the Social Security Administration (SSA) didn’t know that.)

Construction laborers typically do some very physically demanding work and have one of the highest injury and illness rates of all occupations. (Let’s just say if you have a fear of heights or don’t like working outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions, then the profession is probably not for you.)

Over the next eight years, the self-employed construction worker collected nearly $50,000 in benefits from the government program that was created to help people who were legitimately disabled. (This guy was not.) Because the Exeter man concealed from the SSA that he was self-employed as a construction worker, he continued to receive disability benefits he was not entitled to receive.

After the 55-year-old New Hampshire construction worker pleaded guilty to Social Security disability fraud, the judge hammered out the details of his punishment. He was sentenced to six months of home detention and two years of probation for lying about his employment situation. He was also ordered to pay full restitution of $48,000 to the SSA.

The architect of this fraudulent plan had a bad design. It looks like the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General and New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Special Investigations Unit have condemned the Exeter man’s work, demolishing his effort to steal from those who truly deserve the benefit program.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on a Department of Justice press release entitled, Exeter Man Sentenced to Six Months of Home Detention for Making False Statements to Obtain Social Security Benefits,” released on June 14, 2018.

CONCORD – Brett Gessay, 55, of Exeter, was sentenced to six months of home detention and two years of probation and was ordered to pay full restitution to the Social Security Administration for making a false statement in order to obtain Social Security benefits, announced United States Attorney Scott W. Murray.

According to public records in the case, Gessay began receiving Social Security disability benefits in January 2007.  Beginning in at least January of 2008, Gessay was self-employed as a construction worker.   His income from this job rendered him ineligible to get most of the Social Security disability benefits that he received while he was self-employed.   Gessay did not report this work activity to the Social Security Administration (SSA), and concealed his self-employment and self-employment income from the SSA.   In mid-2016, Gessay admitted to investigators that he had concealed his work and income from the SSA in order to continue receiving disability benefits.  As a result of his concealment, Gessay received over $48,000 in disability benefits that he was not entitled to receive.

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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.