Nothing Is As It Seems


Appearances are hard to keep up. We can pretend that all is well by smiling on the outside, but most people – except those closest to you – don’t really know what you’re like on the inside. All others know about you is what they observe. According to an article published by Alaska Dispatch News, one woman put up a good facade to her co-workers who vouched for her, but in the end they didn’t really know her at all.

The article states that the Anchorage woman was able to collect a variety of government benefits including Permanent Fund Dividends (PFD), unemployment and subsidized housing funds by falsely claiming U.S. citizenship on multiple applications. (Alaska pays a PFD dividend to residents who live within the state for an entire year and intend to remain a resident indefinitely at the time of the application.) It turns out that the woman, who was a citizen of Samoa, applied for and obtained legal documents – including a passport – under her sister’s name. (That was a definite no-no.)

She was charged with passport fraud, nine counts of falsely claiming U.S. citizenship and aggravated identity theft. (I imagine her sister was pretty aggravated.) The 43-year-old woman was sentenced to five years of probation for passport fraud. She also will be placed on house arrest for four months and will pay restitution of $14,441 to the Alaska Permanent Fund and $17,392 to the Alaska Department of Labor.

Even though her co-workers wrote letters of support stating she was a hard worker and a loving mother to her two children, they obviously didn’t know that she was a fraudster and had lied for years in order to obtain benefits to which she was not entitled. With fraudsters, nothing is as it really seems.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Anchorage Woman Sentenced for Passport, PFD Fraud,” written by Jerzy Shedlock and published by Alaska Dispatch News on October 20, 2014.

A 43-year-old Anchorage woman has been sentenced in federal court to five years of probation for passport fraud. She used her false citizenship to obtain federal and state benefits including Permanent Fund dividends, according to the Alaska U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Maualuga Leaana was indicted in April on multiple charges: passport fraud, nine counts of falsely claiming U.S. citizenship, and aggravated identity theft. She is a citizen of Samoa, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Bradley in a news release.

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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.