Fugitive Returns to Prison for Identity Theft, Fraud

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USA Passport with Social Security Card, Drivers License and Birth Certificate.

Sometimes committing fraud can lead to bigger things – and not in a good way.

A Kentucky man led a quiet life, working and keeping to himself for four decades. He retired in 2009 and in 2010 filed to receive Social Security benefits. In fact, he received elderly benefits for more than five years – until authorities realized he was not who he claimed he was.

In 2016, police in Georgia developed evidence matching Harold Arnold, 71, of London, Ky., to a man who escaped from a Georgia prison in 1979 where he was serving a 16-year sentence for manslaughter. In that case, Arnold was convicted of shooting and causing the death of a woman he lived with.

After the escape, the former Billy Burchfield settled in the southern Kentucky town and assumed the identity of his deceased cousin, Harold Arnold. He later legally changed his name and date of birth to his cousin’s, but not before illegally using it to get a job and, later, government benefits.

Arnold pleaded guilty to charges of Social Security fraud and aggravated identity theft and was sentenced in January to 31 months in federal prison for scamming the Social Security Administration. A judge also ordered him to repay $83,561 he collected in benefits until 2016.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from the U.S. Justice Department press release, “Laurel County Man Sentenced to Prison for Social Security Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft,” distributed Jan. 28, 2020.

Harold Arnold, 69, of London, was sentenced in federal court on Tuesday, by U.S. District Judge Claria Horn Boom, to 31 months in prison for defrauding the Social Security Administration (SSA) and committing aggravated identity theft.

Arnold previously admitted that, after escaping from custody in Georgia in 1979, he unlawfully assumed the identity of his deceased cousin and moved to Kentucky, where he worked under the assumed identity from 1981 to 2009.  He then applied for and received Social Security benefits, from October 2010 through July 2016.  Arnold failed to truthfully disclose his own identity, applied for benefits using a fraudulent identity; and was a fugitive from justice, rendering him ineligible for the payments that he received.  According to his plea agreement, the total loss to the SSA was $83,561.90, which Arnold has been ordered to repay.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.