Hello…You’ve Just Been Busted for Fraud

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Voicemail greetings serve several useful purposes. They let callers know that you are unavailable to talk. They also provide a way for important messages to get through. Today’s fraudster from northeast Ohio used his personal voicemail greeting for yet another purpose – to inadvertently expose his criminal activity. The Northfield Village man was busted for workers’ compensation fraud and social security fraud after a follow-up call from a claims specialist led to a personal voicemail message that revealed he was up to no good.

Some people get really imaginative when recording their own personal voicemail message. (It reveals a person’s creativity.) Today’s fraudster, whose message stated he was working at a fireplace business, revealed his stupidity. An investigation ensued, including video surveillance of a visit from undercover investigators, which provided fuel to the fraud fire. (He was recorded returning to his place of employment and flipping his “be back soon” sign to “open.”)

 The fireplace business was not owned by the fraudster, who apparently collected nearly $700,000 in permanent total disability benefits from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation and the Social Security Administration. (Apparently the fraudster threw up a smoke screen by avoiding being paid directly by the fireplace business owner.) The fraudster deliberately concealed his income for 25 years, claiming that he was unable to work since 1982 due to a work-related injury. (Fortunately, the fireplace store owner cooperated with investigators and stated he didn’t know anything illegal had transpired.)

The 62-year-old fireplace salesman from Macedonia, Ohio was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for stealing more than $684,000 through his workers’ compensation fraud and social security fraud scheme. He must also serve one year and one day in federal prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. Fortunately for the fraudster, the court suggested that he serve out his time in a facility that is close enough for his family to visit. (The justice system is empathetic, even to those unscrupulous individuals who don’t appear to deserve it.)

While the man at the center of today’s case sustained a work-related injury in 1982, he continued to receive government benefits even after he returned to work in 1993. (That’s when he was supposed to let the SSA know he was working again.) While receiving undeserved benefits, the fraudster also earned $16,000 in commissions from selling fireplaces for four hours a day. He also enjoyed driving a Cadillac and hitting the golf course on a daily basis. (I guess you could say all has gone up in smoke and the ashes of a failed fraud scheme are the only thing left.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Macedonia man sent to prison for defrauding Social Security, Ohio BWC,” published by MyTownNEO.com on August 29, 2018.

YOUNGSTOWN — A fireplace salesman who defrauded federal and state disability programs out of more than $684,000 over a 25-year span has been ordered by a federal judge to pay back every cent he stole.

But first, he’ll have to serve one year and one day behind the bars of a federal prison.

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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.