Guardian Demon

Social security card and American money dollar bills close up concept

Court-appointed guardians and conservators are entrusted to protect the personal and financial interests of those they represent. Instead, one Washington guardian betrayed this trust by committing Social Security fraud and other crimes to pocket his clients’ money. Wayne Jerome Houston pleaded guilty in January 2020 to representative payee fraud.

Houston and his guardianship business, Cross Point Services LLC, were supposed to manage the financial affairs of 15-20 clients per month. Over a period of nearly eight years, Houston stole from his disabled and vulnerable clients at least 240 times, according to U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. (So, his clients were essentially paying him to steal from them.)

Targeting clients who had significant income or resources to avoid detection, Houston took up to $280,000, including about $83,000 in Social Security benefits. He used access to client bank accounts intended to let him pay rent, utilities and other bills to write checks to cash, himself, and his company, and used ATMs to withdraw money for his own expenses. (A little for me, a little for them, a little more for me…)

When Houston is sentenced in April, he could get up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine; prosecutors will recommend no more than 40 months as part of his plea deal. (Let’s hope the sentence includes full restitution for the victims and their families.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Peninsula Daily News article, “Port Ludlow man pleads guilty to Social Security fraud,” published Jan. 29, 2020.

TACOMA — A Port Ludlow man has pleaded guilty in federal court to Social Security fraud and could be sentenced to more than three years in prison.

Wayne Jerome Houston, 61, accepted a plea agreement Friday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, saying he stole from disabled and elderly clients.

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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.