Grieving Loss, Gaining Checks

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Thief holding a social security card.

Michael Matherne, 61, of Louisiana, has pleaded guilty to Social Security Fraud for continuing to receive his wife’s Retirement Survivor Insurance (RSI) Benefits after her death.

Matherne’s wife, M.F., began receiving Retirement Survivor Insurance Benefit (RSI) Program benefits in 1993. The RSI Program is operated by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and provides benefits to retired individuals, including widows and widowers. It’s important to note that paper checks were regularly sent to M.F. by the SSA and were deposited into her Whitney bank account.

M.F. and Matherne were married in 2006 and in July 2012, Matherne formed a joint Whitney bank account where the SSA checks could be deposited. In November that year, M.F. passed away, though Matherne never informed the SSA of his wife’s death. (It’s important to take time to grieve, but it’s also important to be honest.)

Between December 2012 and March 2019, Matherne continued to collect monthly SSA checks sent to his Louisiana address that were meant for his deceased wife. (After dozens of checks were delivered, he probably figured it was best not to fix something that wasn’t broke if you know what I mean.) Matherne allegedly used the $74,838 in government funds to pay for everyday living expenses. (Wouldn’t it be nice if the government picked up the tab for all of your personal expenses?)

Matherne is scheduled to be sentenced for committing Social Security fraud on November 4, 2021. The sentence could include a maximum of ten years in prison, a fine up to $250,000, and three years of supervised release. (What a way to spend your golden years.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Slidell Man Pleads Guilty to Social Security Fraud of More Than $75,000,” dated August 3, 2021.

NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that MICHAEL R. MATHERNE (“MATHERNE”), age 61, of Slidell, Louisiana pled guilty as charged on July 22, 2021 to an indictment returned by a grand jury on November 6, 2020, for Theft of Federal Funds.

According to the Indictment, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”), an agency or department of the United States of America, operated the Retirement Survivor Insurance Benefit program (“RSI Program”). The purpose of the RSI Program is to provide benefits to certain persons, including widows and widowers, in their retirement.

 

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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.