Zombie Fraud

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It’s pretty common to hear about fraud cases where the identity of a deceased person has been stolen by a criminal and used to collect a variety of government benefits for years before getting caught. Sadly, a story in the Conroe-Montgomery County Patch profiles a Texas woman whowent to great lengths to steal a deceased woman’s identity and then used her personal information to collect more than $400,000 in undeserved benefits for more than two decades.

The story explains that the woman at the center of this case contacted the family of a deceased woman after reading about her death. She claimed to be an old high school friend and milked the grief-stricken family for biographical information about the recently deceased woman. The deceptive woman then called the mortuary that was handling the funeral and was able to obtain even more personal information. (Keep in mind this was before the Internet and prior to HIPAA laws.)

This persuasive criminal was able to use the information she obtained from family members and the mortuary to apply for and receive a Texas Driver’s License and a Social Security Card in the deceased woman’s name. Then she declared her victim disabled and proceeded to collect Social Security Disability and Medicare benefits, plus food stamps in the dead woman’s name (thus giving a whole new meaning to RIP-off!)

The 67-year-old woman eventually got caught and pleaded guilty to defrauding the Social Security Administration. She faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. (Let’s hope the judge adds in full restitution as well.)

If a TV show were to be made about this unfortunate situation, there would be a lot of really mad zombies chasing a bunch of frightened fraudsters. (‘The Walking Dead: Fear the Fraud’)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Willis Woman Convicted for Social Security Fraud,” published by the Conroe-Montgomery County Patch on July 7, 2016.

Willis, TX — Call it old school identity theft. Back in the late 1980s, Jerrie Mona Chesney, 67, read about the death of a Beaumont woman.

Chesney called up the woman’s family and pretended to be an old high school friend. Because it was pre-internet, the family didn’t think twice about providing a complete stranger with biographical information about their recently deceased love one.

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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.