Stretching a Dollar

Social Security cards with cash and benefit amount numbers

If you’re thinking about living abroad while collecting Social Security benefits, it’s best to check with the Social Security Administration (SSA) Payments Abroad Screening Tool to see if you qualify before heading off to another country. An Ellenville, New York man continued to collect his Supplemental Security Income (SSI) while living in the Philippines, but neglected to tell the SSA that he was not living in the United States. He now has a Social Security fraud conviction on his record for collecting $38,000 in disability benefits while living out of the country.

The SSA is pretty specific regarding the collection of benefits while residing overseas. (That’s why they put together the tool mentioned above, so it’s easy to understand what you can and cannot do.) Today’s fraud article reveals that the man concealed his place of residence from the SSA for four years before the lie caught up with him. (He knew what he was doing was wrong.)

The 38-year-old U.S. citizen pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud and was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for defrauding the SSA. After serving out his term, he will be required to serve three more years of supervised release. (And, let’s not forget the issue of paying back the $38,894.42 in benefits he received while in the Philippines.)

While there are many reasons why the fraudster from Ellenville may have wanted to live in the Philippines, my guess is that the main reason is because he knew he could stretch his Social Security disability check a lot farther there than here in the U.S. (It may seem like a stretch, but the U.S. Government is not averse to pursuing criminals around the world to catch those who try to defraud and steal benefits for which they do not qualify.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article,Ellenville man gets 15 months in prison for Social Security fraud,” published by Daily Freeman on August 27, 2019.

An Ellenville man has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for defrauding the Social Security Administration of $38,000 while living in the Philippines, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Anthony Alvarez, 38, fraudulently obtained Supplemental Security Income benefits, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.