A Six Month Sentence for Social Security fraud.

Does anybody remember the old adage that crime does not pay? While it could be argued that some kinds of crime do indeed pay (and pay quite well until you get caught), Social Security fraud is really not one of them. Recently, Bradley Shame McCorkle of Fort Madison, Iowa, discovered just how serious the federal government is about making sure that Social Security disability money stays out of the wrong hands.

McCorkle’s mother had been a legitimate Social Security disability recipient. Like most disability recipients these days, her checks were directly deposited into her bank account. When she died, her checks continued to be deposited into her bank account.

We don’t know, of course, whether Bradley Shane McCorkle had some kind of nefarious plan to continue receiving his mother’s Social Security benefits payments after she died or not. Chances are, it didn’t even cross his mind until he noticed (as executor of mom’s estate) that the deposits were continuing. For whatever reason, he decided not to inform the SSA that his mother had passed away. In all likelihood, the crime was not a premeditated attempt at fraud so much as a decision not to inform the SSA that his mother had passed.

Nearly a year passed before anyone caught onto his game, and he is reported to have accessed and spent over $15,000 of the federal government’s money. Turns out, the federal government in general, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) in particular, take a rather dim view on these kinds of “lies of omission.”

Recently, McCorkle was found guilty and sentenced to 6 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release following his prison term. The trial took three days. We’re not sure what the defense was, exactly, but we’re imaging it went something like “finders, keepers, right?”

This all goes to show you that it really does not pay to defraud the federal government. The SSA has shown itself to be reasonably effective in rooting out and prosecuting those who defraud the system. Given that the payouts for such crimes aren’t terribly large to begin with ($15,000 for a whole year’s worth of fraud, in this case), it makes you wonder why anyone would take their chances with something like this.

McCorkle will have plenty of time to think about it. While some area residents have expressed disappointment that he won’t be locked up for considerably longer, six months is plenty of time to spend pondering your missteps.