Timing is Everything

20067797 - w2 tax form and social security cards

When merging onto a busy highway, it’s important to accelerate and time your entry when there is a break in traffic. If you want to collect a retirement check, you have to wait until the appropriate age before claiming your hard-earned monthly benefit. The Courant follows a story about a man who tried to time his retirement earlier than he should have by assuming another man’s identity.

The story reports that the 58-year-old man applied for and received a replacement Social Security card in the name of another man approximately 20 years ago. (That would make the man about 38 years old at the time.) He used a Social Security card and a birth certificate in the other man’s name to acquire the new personal identification document.

Approximately 16 years later, the man applied for Social Security retirement income under the alternate identity because the other man would have turned 62 that year, qualifying him for receiving retirement benefits. (The fraudster was only 54 at that time.) The benefit checks started rolling in, and he collected more than $42,000 over three-and-a-half years at which time he actually changed his name to match his assumed identity. (If the scam works, why not make it a permanent thing?)

The fraudster pleaded guilty to using a false identity to obtain Social Security benefits and was sentenced to three years of probation. (That sentence seems a bit light for someone who had been working on the scheme for about 20 years.) He was also ordered to pay restitution for the benefits received. (Now that’s more like it.)

The criminal probably figured he had everything timed out just right to retire a few years early, while reaping the benefits of some other man’s hard work. Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work out too well for the fraudster and he got caught for his illegal activities. While on probation, perhaps he can figure out a legal way to pay into a system that is designed to benefit those who work hard for their money.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Montville Man Gets Probation for Social Security Fraud,” published by The Courant on February 21, 2014.

NEW HAVEN — A 58-year-old Montville man was sentenced to three years of probation on Friday for using a false identity to obtain Social Security benefits, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

John Francis Williams was born Russell Fithian, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. In 1993, Fithian applied for and received a replacement Social Security card in the name of John Francis Williams, using a social security card and birth certificate he had obtained in that name.

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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.