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Cases of Social Security Fraud rising

A Perham, Minnesota man has been charged with fraudulently receiving Social Security Disability benefits. Wayne A. Larson, age 54, had begun receiving benefits in June of 1995. However, Larson returned to work in the construction field in August of 2005 and failed to report this fact to the Social Security Administration (SSA). As a result, he wrongfully received over $24,000 in benefits from the SSA. He could be sentenced to 10 years in prison or a fine or both for each count he faces.

A woman from Bakersfield, CA has pleaded guilty to defrauding the SSA out of more than $70,000. It seems that Nancy Ann Steele (a.k.a. Nancy Ann Keenan), age 56, and has continued to accept retirement benefits on behalf of her great-aunt, who unfortunately passed away in July of 2003. He SSA was not informed that the relative had died, and therefore kept depositing money directly into her account. Ms. Keenan, although she did not rightfully have access to the account, continued to sign checks in her great-aunt’s stead.
In Lincoln, NE, 67-year-old Stanley Tryon failed to disclose his ownership of some real estate. As it turns out, this real estate would have made Mr. Tryon ineligible for the Supplemental Security Income he was being paid. As a result, he finds himself required to pay over $54,000 in restitution and is on probation for 5 years.

In Orlando, FL a doctor has been indicted on charges that he helped a fried fraudulently obtain over $100,000 in Social Security Disability benefits over a 5 year period. Dr. Miguel Burgos faces federal charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Government.

These are just a few of the countless tales of Social Security fraud. Unfortunately, advances in technology have spawned countless new ways for those who are unwilling to earn an honest living to exercise their remarkable creativity to avoid doing so. You have to wonder what kind of great things these folks could accomplish if they were to focus their energies on helping others instead of themselves.

To add insult to injury, it seems that all too often we hear nightmarish tales of genuinely deserving souls who are legitimately entitled to receive Social Security benefits of some kind or other but are stuck in a seemingly endless morass of bureaucratic red tape in trying to obtain the benefits they’ve diligently labored their entire lives to receive.

Regardless, any time a person receives benefits they are not entitled to, they are committing fraud. It really is that simple. It could be by way of commission, such as stealing someone else’s Social Security number or hiding assets in order to qualify for benefits, or by omission, like failing to report the death of a recipient of benefits and keeping their checks. Either way, it is a crime. According to the SSA, the penalties for Social Security fraud can include fines ranging from $500 to $10,000, a prison sentence from 1 to 15 years, or both, depending on the severity of the offense. Keep in mind that these sentences are for each count.