The Land of Free Benefits

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When Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner, he described the United States as the land of the free and the home of the brave. (Nothing about it being a great place for foreign fraudsters to receive free benefits).According to Las Vegas television news station KSNV, four family members from Belize claiming to be U.S. citizens bilked five federal government agencies out of nearly $300,000.

The organizer and leader of the scheme was assisted by his wife and two sisters. Court records state that the man and his youngest sister registered two fictitious companies with Nevada’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. The two then submitted fraudulent wage information for 16 employees who did not exist. Next, they filed bogus unemployment compensation claims and collected approximately $218,000 by withdrawing cash from ATMs with debit cards mailed to the fictitious employees. (But, that’s not all folks.)

The brother and sister also falsely stated that their father was a U.S. Citizen when applying for their U.S. Passports. On other government paperwork, they claimed to be U.S. Citizens and used false identities to qualify for benefits from the Department of Labor, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Health and Human Services and the Social Security Administration. The mastermind obtained $33,814 in Social Security benefits, $10,900 in Pell grants, $33,814 in food stamps and $1,132 in Medicaid benefits just for himself.

This family scam finally came to an end when the ringleader was convicted of 20 counts including mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, theft of government money, making a false statement to apply for a passport and making false citizenship claims. The 35-year-old was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay approximately $297,000 in restitution.

The leader’s 27-year-old sister was sentenced to five years and five months in prison and ordered to pay $218,000 in restitution. His 40-year-old sister received a prison sentence of two-and-a-half years, while his 37-year-old wife received a much lighter sentence – two years of probation.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Fourth Family member from Belize sentenced in fraud case,” posted on on July 18, 2016.

LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) – A Belize man who was one of four family members convicted in a scheme to steal almost $300,000 in unemployment funds and benefits from multiple federal agencies, was sentenced to 87 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay approximately $297,000 in restitution.

Frederick Vernon Williams, 35, was convicted by a jury of 20 counts total, including conspiracy to commit mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, mail fraud, theft of government money, making a false statement in application for a passport, and making false citizenship claims. At sentencing, the judge found that he had been an organizer and leader in the scheme to defraud the agencies.

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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.