Nine people in and around the Seattle, WA area have been indicted on charges that they fraudulently obtained Social Security payments. Among the group’s tactics have been filing claims for apparently non-existent mental health issues and receiving benefits under fake identities. The total bill to the American taxpayers was in excess of $700,000.
Ronnie George, age 50, of Kent, WA, was indicted on charges that he applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits under the pretense that he was so profoundly mentally deficient that he was illiterate and unable to care for himself or drive. He is alleged to have received over $139,000 in benefits. Nancy Stone, age 45, posing as Ronnie George’s caregiver, was paid over $109,000 by the state. During the period in question, Ronnie George was, in fact, working as a car salesman.
In a separate indictment, Johnny and Linda George, ages 53 and 54, respectively, as well as their children Paul George, Danna George and Cookie Miller, are charged with collectively defrauding the government out of more than $338,000 since 1979. According to the indictment, Johnny George filed for disability under a false Social Security number, but has been self-employed as a used car dealer. Paul George has allegedly been collecting disability benefits since 1983, but claimed in a housing application to be Brad George, supposedly working as sales and finance manager at Pacific Auto Zone. (Oddly enough, the dealership claims to know nothing of either Brad or Paul George, but did acknowledge having a manager named Chris George. Wow.) It seems that other family members willingly participated in hiding George’s true identity, whatever that may be.
Yet another indictment names 37 year-old Anthony George and his wife Roxanne, age 35, from Mill Creek, WA. Allegedly, Anthony George used a false identity to obtain an additional Social Security number and used it to collect disability benefits to the tune of more than $116,000 under the name of Sonny Fisher. During that time he was working as a used car salesman, all while claiming to be unable to work.
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), penalties for fraudulently receiving SSA funds can be a fine ranging from $500 to $10,000, a prison sentence or 1 to 15 years, or both. Keep in mind that this is for each count, of course depending upon the severity and which specific law has been violated.
In an age where there is serious discussion about the fact that the SSA could feasibly run out of funding during our lifetime, it’s simply unfathomable that this type of fraud could go on for as long as it allegedly has while those who may be legitimately entitle to benefits have to fight, sometimes for years, to receive them.