When Donald Felix Zampach’s mom passed away thirty years ago, he did most of the things that one has to do when a loved one dies. Notify immediate family, select an appropriate burial provider, and organize a Celebration of Life. The one thing Zampach never did: report her death to the U.S. Social Security so they would cease her payments. And it looks like it wasn’t an oversight.
On June 27, 2023, Zampach admitted in court that he covered up his mother’s death for more than 30 years while he collected more than $800,000 in government benefits intended for her. Zampach’s mom died in Japan in 1990, which is when her Social Security widow’s pension and DoD annuity should have stopped being paid. But someone has to tell the Social Security Administration for that to actually happen. Instead, Zampach spent the next three decades tricking federal programs into thinking she was still alive by forging her signature and filing fake tax returns in her name. Zampach did not passively collect checks mailed to his deceased mother. This scheme required deceit and aggressive scheming which Zampach was determined to do and orchestrate. Even after investigators caught on to his scheme, Zampach continued to insist his mother was still alive.
According to California county court records, this crime is believed to be the longest-running and largest fraud of its kind in this district. Zampach pleaded guilty to money laundering and Social Security fraud on Tuesday. Zampach says he is remorseful for his actions and for restitution is going to sell his house. The very house that he stole from his mom. Just before her passing, Zampach transferred the ownership of his mom’s southern California home to himself and then filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy on her behalf. Chapter 7 doesn’t require a repayment plan unlike the more well-known chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Great job by the Attorney’s Office in this case.
Today’s Fraud Of The Day is based on article “California man hid mother’s death for more than 30 years to collect benefits” published by The Guardian on July 2, 2023
A California man has pleaded guilty to hiding his mother’s death for more than three decades while he collected her social security and military retirement payments, a scheme the US attorney said is believed to be the longest-running and largest fraud of its kind in the district.
Donald Felix Zampach of Poway, about 20 miles north of San Diego, collected over $830,000 of public funds and nearly $30,000 in fraudulently opened credit cards over the course of three decades, US attorney Randy Grossman said last week.