Random Acts of Fraud


Random acts of kindness are meant to make someone’s day a little brighter. Usually the intent is to inspire others to pass along the favor and make another person’s day by also doing something kind. Eventually, if multiple acts of kindness reach enough people, the world will become a better place. In contrast, fraud works in reverse, especially when involving identity fraud. The Washington Free Beacon details a story about a woman, who stole the identities of 50 people and collected unemployment benefits worth $78,674 in their names. (These acts of fraud made the lives of 50 random victims a living nightmare.)

According to court documents, the 46-year-old used the stolen identities – some of which were obtained from the Internet – to electronically file false unemployment insurance claims over a four-year period. She also used the identities to open bank accounts or cash value cards over the Internet and directed the deposit of illegal unemployment benefits. The fraudster would then withdraw cash from these accounts or cards through ATMs and use it to her benefit.

The story reports that the Whitehall resident operated the scam across eight states while receiving nearly $8,000 of unemployment benefits in her own name. (Unemployed? Theft with 50 IDs is a lot of work.) As you can imagine, she did not report the earnings received from her identity theft scheme to the Social Security Administration. (Wow? She really didn’t report it? Have you checked with state and federal revenue agencies to see if she filed taxes? I bet she didn’t even file since she was ”unemployed.’? Wink. Wink.)

The woman’s attorney claimed that the fraudster’s actions were related to ”fallout from long-term mental health issues.” (I’m just crazy about stealing from the government.) She ended up pleading guilty to two counts each of theft of government funds and aggravated identity theft. At her sentencing, she was ordered to repay restitution for the illegal benefits received.

It has been said that for every negative experience, multiple positive experiences are needed to counteract the impact of the negative experience. If this is true, this fraudster better get busy on thinking up some random acts of kindness to negate the 50 acts of identity fraud. Perhaps then, life will become better for her victims.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Woman Uses 50 Identities to Collect Unemployment in 8 States,” written by Elizabeth Harrington and published in The Washington Free Beacon on August 21, 2013.

An Ohio woman used 50 stolen identities to collect unemployment benefits in eight states, according to the inspector general (IG) of the Social Security Administration.

Audrey Costar, 46, was sentenced to four years in federal prison for stealing identities over the internet and collecting $78,674 in fraudulent unemployment benefits.

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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.