She Was Going for the Gold

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Portrait of a woman reading her mail at home and looking very happy - domestic lifestyle concepts

Some fraudsters make a habit out of stealing from only one type of government benefits program. Others find success with one type of fraud and replicate their scheme to siphon off even more taxpayer dollars from another government program. Maribel Rodriguez, 63 of Marlboro, Mass., was a risk taker and an opportunist who scammed four U.S. Government benefit programs. (While the Olympics are officially over, you could say that she was “going for the gold.” But it looks like she will end up with steel, as in prison bars.)

The Marlboro woman operated her multi-tiered scam over 12 years. She stole $68,223 from the Social Security Administration (SSA), $1,908 from MassHealth (Medicaid benefits), $21,790 from the U.S. Department’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) better known as food stamps, and a whopping $161,277 in Section 8 housing assistance benefits. (She was feeling lucky, I suppose.) 

She was a master at lying on her benefit application forms. In June 2016, she told the SSA that she lived alone. (She actually lived with her husband.) In May 2017, she used that lie again and told the Marlborough Community Development Authority that she was the only member of her household. 

The 63-year-old pleaded guilty to four counts of theft of public funds and two counts of making false statements. When sentenced, she could receive 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. For making false statements, she could receive a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. (Suffice to say, this woman should be barred from receiving any government assistance in the future.) 

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Marlboro Woman Pleads Guilty to Welfare Fraud,” dated March 4, 2022.

BOSTON – A Marlboro woman pleaded guilty today to fraudulently receiving Social Security disability benefits, MassHealth, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and Section 8 housing assistance.

Maribel Rodriguez, 63, pleaded guilty to four counts of theft of public funds and two counts of making false statements. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton scheduled sentencing for July 7, 2022. Rodriguez was charged in December 2020.

 

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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.