Living a Lie

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If a gene existed that determined selfishness, fraudsters would have it. A Lansdale, Pennsylvania man carried out an extremely selfish scheme involving the theft of a deceased infant’s identity. He not only lived a lie every day of his life for 21 years under the infant’s assumed identity, but passed that lie on to his wife and children, while committing Social Security fraud.

The man at the center of today’s fraud article got into considerable trouble, perhaps because of a rough upbringing during his youth. Additional research shows that when the man was two decades younger, he was convicted of indecency with a child and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. After serving five years in jail, he was released to a halfway house, but he absconded without finishing out his term. (His step-father suggested that he visit a cemetery and search for a gravestone that had a similar birthdate, then use it to assume that person’s identity to erase the young man’s turbulent past.)

Unfortunately, the fraudster took his step-father’s unwise advice, found a headstone in a Texas cemetery, and even called up the parents of the deceased child to ask questions that eventually led to enough information to craft a new identity. (It wasn’t long before he applied for a birth certificate in the infant’s name, which led to a Social Security number as well.)

Over the next 21 years, today’s fraudster worked odd jobs in the South, while living in Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee. He rented apartments, applied for jobs, obtained drivers licenses, opened bank accounts and secured student and car loans under his assumed identity. (The man also married, divorced, and married again, fathering twin daughters the second time around.)

After spending two decades running from the law, it was a discovery on Ancestry.com that led to this man’s capture and prosecution. The deceased infant’s aunt discovered government records detailing the fraudster’s life while browsing on the website. (When confronted by investigators from the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General, the fraudster immediately confessed. That was a really good idea, most likely the best one he had made in his entire life.)

The now 45-year-old man who had settled in Lansdale, Pennsylvania with a successful career as a nurses’ aide, pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud, as well as aggravated identity theft crimes. After apologizing to the parents for stealing their infant son’s identity, he admitted that he was “young, stupid and scared,” but was a law-abiding citizen since he assumed their son’s identity. (Do you see the irony in that line of thinking?)

 He was sentenced to two years and three months in jail for leading a double life. (And, after he completes his sentence, he’ll be returned to Texas where he will finish out the sentence he had previously avoided.)

Fraudsters usually don’t think about the harm that they will cause to their victims by committing a crime. This man’s selfishness not only impacted the family of the deceased child, but also his wife and children who were part of this man’s double life under an assumed name. This story is just another example of how living a lie always catches up to the liar, and the aftermath is often devastating for those involved.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an Office of the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration press release entitled, “Pennsylvania Man Sentenced to 27 Months in Prison for Social Security Fraud and Identity Theft,” released on September 7, 2017.

Jon Vincent, a/k/a “Nathan Laskoski,” 45, of Lansdale, Pennsylvania, was sentenced today to 27 months in prison, announced Acting United States Attorney Louis D. Lappen. Defendant Vincent pled guilty in May 2017 to Social Security fraud and aggravated identity theft crimes for his use of the identity of a deceased child for more than two decades. According to the facts admitted to by the defendant during his guilty plea hearing, after being convicted in the state of Texas, the defendant served a prison term, then escaped from a Texas halfway house in 1996. Shortly after his escape, the defendant stole the name of the deceased Nathan Laskoski after visiting a cemetery and finding that the decedent had a birthdate close to Vincent’s own birthdate, to craft a new identity. Vincent subsequently obtained the birth certificate for Laskoski, which he used to apply for a Social Security number in Laskoski’s name.

The defendant has been living using the deceased victim’s stolen identity since mid-1996, and used this identity for various purposes, including to obtain employment, open bank accounts, apply for loans, and to obtain government identification. His use of the stolen identity was discovered when a relative of the deceased victim discovered information on the ancestral website “Ancestry.com” indicating that someone was impersonating the decedent.

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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.