“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” While it is a great sentiment to take to heart, somebody should have told today’s fraudster that it doesn’t apply to stealing from the government. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Virginia, released an account of a fraud scheme 15 years in the making.
The Virginia man in the report entered the U.S. back in 1991 and was able to obtain a valid Social Security number under one name, while he was registered with U.S. Customs and Immigration under a different one. (The beginning of a bad precedent.) In 2005 and 2007, he attempted to secure funds from the Supplemental Security Income program and the Disability Insurance Benefits program, respectively, but was denied both times. (But not because his name game had been discovered—that would take another 10 years.) However, he was not to be deterred, and kicked off his next scheme to illegitimately secure government benefits.
As a newly naturalized citizen, he filed for a new Social Security number after being granted a petition for a name change, different than the other two.In doing so, he falsely attested that he had never previously been assigned a Social Security number. Then in 2010, he applied for Social Security Administration Survivors Benefits for his children by claiming that their father—aka his previous identity—was deceased. (That name had not scored him any benefits so why not kill it off?) He collected $51,608 in benefits on the children’s behalf.
Unfortunately for our fraudster, naming yourself as the recipient of your own death benefits is a great way to draw attention to your latest blatant fraud attempt. (Generally something fraudsters try to avoid as a rule of thumb.) As a result of the long-concocted but short-lived scheme, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $35,187 in restitution.