In It for the Kids

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Many parents will go to the end of the world to help their kids. Often you hear parents express that their biggest fear is not being able to support their kids; not being able to send them successfully in the right direction. Today’s Fraud of the Day from a Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General post focuses on one Minnesota couple that wen? too far to ”help their kids,” committing fraud across the board.

The article reported that a couple pleaded guilty in late October to a slew of fraud charges, including mail fraud, health care fraud and theft of public money.<em? (But they want you to remember, ”It was all for the kids.”) As victims of Hurricane Katrina, the family relocated to the state of Minnesota, which the article says the couple believed was the best place to raise their disabled children (or did they think it was the best place to be fraudsters?). Shortly after arriving in Minnesota, the couple applied for Medical Assistance ”MA,” a Minnesota Medicaid program. (They didn’t want to waste any time!? In court the couple admitted to providing false information to the government regarding their income and living situation, not just on their health care applications, but for various other forms of government aid.

But how did they manage the various forms of fraud? Keeping track of the lies must have been tedious work. It was just about as tedious as the multitude of government aid applications the husband prepared with false information, which investigators found that his wife signed without protesting the falsity of the document. (No kidding. But, would she give him up if she was cashing in, too?) In fact, court documents showed that the couple was never truthful about reporting their actual income. In addition, investigators found that they owned nearly 33 bank accounts, with interest income of at least $117,000. (SAT Math Question? If a person gets $117,000 in interest at say…4%, what is the amount of money in that persons account? Answer: $117,000/.04 = $2,925,000)<em? But, there’s more? the fraudster also neglected to disclose his total amount of interest income, as well as stock holdings, dividend income, farm income, farm subsidies and gifts from family trust. (So what exactly did he provide as a number? Broke?)

His wife was not innocent; investigations discovered her false applications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) stating her husband lived in states other than in the home with her. In addition, she claimed to have only one bank account, when she was linked to nearly 16 of her husband’s. (Yes, those are his bank accounts, I just use the money in them.)

The husband faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, while his wife faces a maximum penalty of only five years.

There is always a limit of how much you can do for your children. I think when it comes to committing fraud, when you clearly have sufficient funds in your 33 bank accounts, we can conclude you’ve gone too far. But hey, at least the parents can say on their kid’s career day, ”We are in it [jail] for the kids.”

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Minnesota Couple Pleads Guilty to Providing False Information to Receive Social Security Benefits, Mail Fraud, and Passport Fraud,” published by the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General Staff on October 24, 2012.

MINNEAPOLIS—Today inp federal court, a North Oaks couple pleaded guilty to mail fraud, health care fraud, and theft of public money. James N. Hood, age 69, and Cynthia Marsalis Hood, age 55, of North Oaks, both pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud. James Hood also pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud and one count of theft of public money. Cynthia Hood also pleaded guilty to one count of false statement for use in determining rights to Social Security Benefit. The couple was charged on October 1, 2012. They entered their pleas before United States District Judge Joan N. Ericksen.

In their plea agreements, the couple admitted that they provided false information to the government regarding their income when applying for benefits on behalf of their disabled children. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Hood family visited several states and eventually decided that Minnesota provided a high quality of life and the best health care and educational resources for their children. Soon after their arrival, they applied for benefits on behalf of their children, including Medical Assistance (”MA”), Minnesota’s Medicaid program.


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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.