Held Captive

41672793 - male nurse taking pulse of senior patient at hospital.

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Fraud is dangerous business and can be life-threatening. (Even though it’s extremely inconvenient to have your identity stolen or to see your hard earned tax dollars stolen by criminals through a variety of scams, we don’t usually equate government fraud with death.) An article posted on abcnews.go.com details a horrible story about a woman who went too far in a disability fraud scheme, causing the death of two of her victims.

The story explains that the alleged caretaker kept mentally disabled adults captive in her basement in order to collect their Social Security disability checks. Prosecutors allege that she was able to trick, force and coerce her victims into choosing her as their caretaker. As a result, she collected approximately $212,000 in disability payments over 10 years.

The article details that the victims were confined like animals in dark places such as basements, closets and attics in homes where they had lived in Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania. The woman, her daughter and three others were allegedly responsible for confining the victims and sedating them with drugs. (I’ll spare you the details which sound like they are right out of a horror movie.)

The fraudulent scam was discovered when a landlord found four adults locked in the boiler room of the woman’s Philadelphia home. She was immediately taken into custody and eventually pleaded guilty to all 196 counts against her, including the murder of two of her victims. She was also charged with kidnapping, racketeering, hate crimes, sex trafficking and fraud. (That’s quite a list of offenses.) In exchange for her plea, federal prosecutors agreed to spare her the death sentence. (They agreed to recommend a life term in prison plus 80 years for the 55-year-old woman.) Two of the defendants have pleaded guilty to charges related to their part in the scheme, while two others are awaiting their trial.

It is interesting that the story mentions the woman wanted to plead guilty in the interest of her children so they could have closure. (What about closure for her victims? Wouldn’t it have been easier to get a reputable job that paid $21,200 a year – basically the same amount of money that she earned by mistreating the disabled people in her care?)

Let’s hope that justice will be served when the mastermind behind this atrocious scheme is sentenced. (She definitely deserves to be held captive in the penal system for the rest of her life.) This case serves as a strong reminder that the victims involved as well as well as other vulnerable citizens who qualify for and deserve to receive government benefits should not be forgotten.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Woman Admits Holding Disabled People Captive in Fraud Scheme,” posted on abcnews.go.com on September 9, 2015.

A woman accused of keeping mentally disabled adults captive in the basement of a Philadelphia home and in other states for their disability checks has pleaded guilty to murder and other charges in a deal that will spare her a possible death sentence.

Linda Weston, 55, entered the plea Wednesday to all 196 counts against her that also include kidnapping, racketeering conspiracy and murder in aid of racketeering, hate crimes, sex trafficking and fraud. Two women she held captive later die

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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.