Woman pleads guilty in ID theft; seniors promised movie roles

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Some fraud conspiracies are especially creative, and some of the most notorious fraudsters in the United States have worked in creative industries like painting, filmmaking, photography and literature. Today’s fraud, courtesy of mylanews.com deals with a woman who stole the identities of senior citizens in order to claim unemployment insurance for them. She gave them fake jobs at a company she claimed to operate, promising them the potential for roles in Hollywood films. (However, in my opinion, this fraud story does not deserve to be glorified by being made into a Hollywood movie.)

The fraudster pleaded guilty on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud as part of a plea agreement in a Los Angeles federal court. Her scheme occurred over the course of two years, and involved recruiting seniors by convincing them that they would be involved in remakes of famous Hollywood classics. (But instead of assembling actors to make the next James Bond, this woman may need to get a bail bond.) To show her victims that she was offering a real opportunity, this fraudster and her co-conspirators created fake film animation and production companies which they used to demonstrate legitimacy.

Once they signed up the seniors and received their necessary employment information, including their Social Security numbers, they filed false wage reports and then pretended to lay off these workers. The story states that these fraudsters collected more than $290,000 in unemployment benefits originally directed for these senior citizens. However, the victims of this identity fraud never saw any of the fake wages from the production companies, nor any of the unemployment benefits they were supposed to receive. (If everything about this story seems unreal, suffice it to say that it could only be made in Hollywood.)

The woman who took the plea bargain on October 14, 2015 faces sentencing on January 6, 2016. She faces up to five years in Federal prison.

It’s been said that truth is stranger than fiction. This scheme certainly falls into that category. Let’s hope that as part of her sentencing, this fraudster receives an appropriate sentence, and that someone can do something to help the seniors whose identities were stolen, as well.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Woman pleads guilty to ID theft; seniors promised movie roles” written by Debbie L. Sklar and published by mylanews.com on October 14, 2015.

An Antelope Valley woman pleaded guilty Wednesday in a mail fraud scheme that used personal data stolen from elderly victims in an effort to defraud the state’s unemployment insurance program out of nearly $300,000.

Dena Buttram of Littlerock, 32 — who also uses the last name Peterman — pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud pursuant to a plea agreement filed Tuesday in Los Angeles federal court, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Over the course of two years, Buttram and co-conspirators stole Social Security numbers and other personal identifying information that was used to defraud the California Employment Development Department, which administers the state unemployment insurance program, prosecutors said.

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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.