Entitled to Nothing

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One word that describes fraudsters in general is “entitled.” For some reason they think they are deserving of things like cash, real estate, luxury vacations or government benefits just because. (And, they reason that it’s acceptable to take those things from others.) Today’s fraud spotlight shines on a man from Morton, Mississippi, who committed Social Security disability fraud by stealing nearly $100,000 in Title II benefits to which he was not entitled.

Due to an injury, today’s fraudster was approved to receive Title II Social Security disability benefits in 1998. (Title II benefits arrive monthly to those qualified individuals who legitimately suffer from a long-term or permanent disability that is expected to last for at least 12 months.)

When applying to receive Title II benefits, the applicant must demonstrate that the condition they suffer from prevents them from performing any type of gainful work activity. (Over the next 11 years, the Mississippi man collected Social Security disability payments.)

In 2009, the supposedly disabled man went back to work full time, but he neglected to inform the Social Security Administration (SSA) that his medical condition had improved. (Somehow, he must have forgotten that as part of the application to receive disability benefits, he agreed under penalty of perjury to notify the agency of this wonderful news.)

Here’s where the entitlement thing comes in. (He felt that he was so entitled to receive these benefits that he used his wife’s Social Security number as his own to avoid detection.) For the next six years, the deceptive man collected $97,083 in addition to the salary he earned while gainfully employed. (You can be sure that he used that cash for his own personal benefit as fraudsters tend to do.)

The 53-year-old man from Morton, Mississippi admitted to illegally collecting disability payments and pleaded guilty to Social Security disability fraud. He faces a maximum of 10 years behind bars, followed by up to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Federal law also requires that he pay full restitution. (When sentenced, let’s hope that this criminal learns an important lesson – that his entitlement days are over. It is the federal government that is entitled to prosecute offenders to the full extent of the law when benefit programs for vulnerable citizens are abused.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Morton man pleads guilty to Social Security fraud,” posted on WTOK.com on January 17, 2018.

JACKSON, Miss. (WTOK) – The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Bobby Earl Thweatt, 53, of Morton, admitted to defrauding the government of Social Security disability payments.

Thweatt pleaded guilty Wednesday to theft of government funds by fraudulently obtaining disability payments. He was approved for Title II Social Security disability benefits in October 1998, based on an injury. However, he failed to report when his medical condition improved and he went back to work full-time in 2009.

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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.