We all know that our caregivers shape us. Oftentimes, parents and guardians give everything to their children, perhaps even when they’re long gone. Well, according to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Social Security Administration (SSA), one 80 year-old Texas man was appreciating his mother’s legacy long after she was gone. The OIG says he has been defrauding the government for over 28 years! (If true, I wonder if he was going for a world record?)
The defendant has been charged with one count of theft in connection with Social Security benefits. Authorities say that from 1984-2010, the defendant collected over $231,000 in his mother’s Social Security benefits. An investigation indicated that the mother and son had a joint checking account, and the Social Security funds were electronically deposited into it. (Perhaps direct deposit isn’t as good of an idea as we thought.)
So, how did authorities become suspicious? According to the indictment, the SSA thought there was something a little fishy about the fact that the woman should have been 104 years old and was still collecting benefits.
A couple of quick points: first, the defendant is accused, not convicted. He is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
Second, regardless of the specific facts of this case, it raises a plausible scenario: How would any government program directly depositing benefits into a joint checking account know if the beneficiary was dead? What would prevent someone else on the account from collecting the benefits? The answer is simple: public records data. By verifying the identity of a benefit recipient against public records databases using technology, federal, state and local agencies can all authenticate the identities of their program beneficiaries. That way, they know the individual receiving the benefit is really the individual entitled to receive it.
Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on the article titled ”80-Year-Old Texas Man Charged with Theft of $231,000 of Social Security Funds,” that was published by the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration on June 28, 2012.
HOUSTON A Conroe area resident has been charged with one count of theft of government property in connection with Social Security benefits paid on behalf of a woman believed to be his mother, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The indictment was returned yesterday against Kline Fisher Budd, 80, a resident of Montgomery County in the Conroe area.
According to the indictment, the SSA began to investigate the whereabouts of Willa Mae Shaughnesy in December 2010 when her date of birth, as listed on Social Security records, suggested she would have been more than 104-years-old. The state of Texas produced a death certificate for Shaughnesy, believed to be Budd’s mother, which confirmed she died in November 1984.