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
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.