A Real Firestorm

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26630523 - closeup of social security cards and money

There’s a famous saying, “fight fire with fire,” but in today’s Fraud of the Day the story is about fighting fraud with justice, as a Bartlett, Tennessee man found out (the hard way). According to the article (and the actual indictment and evidence presented in court) the Tennessee man lied about his late wife’s role in financially supporting his two daughters, resulting in over $60,000 worth of Social Security fraud.

Here’s how the fraudster got in hot water. After his wife passed away, the man – who was a Memphis Fire Department lieutenant (hence the fire puns) – applied for and received Social Security benefits on behalf of his two daughters. He falsely claimed that his daughters lived with him and his late wife, who was their stepmother. He also claimed she provided for the girls’ every need. (What a thoughtful father, using his daughters’ names to commit fraud. Just what every child wants.)

After being found guilty of Social Security fraud, the Bartlett man was sentenced to two years of probation and six months of home confinement, followed by community service requirements. He must also pay $60,528 in restitution. (This judge got it right. Make the fraudster pay back every penny that he stole.) And the kicker? The man has been relieved of his firefighting duties with pay pending an administrative investigation. (What needs to be investigated? He was found guilty in a court of law!)

In a statement, U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, “One of the primary functions of this office is to protect the United States Treasury, and the ability of eligible beneficiaries to receive Social Security benefits. Fraudulent schemes and crimes of dishonesty do not pay, and will be exposed.” (Hallelujah. It sounds like this fraudster was caught in a firestorm.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Memphis fire lieutenant sentenced for defrauding Social Security Administration,” published by Memphis Commercial Appeal on November 30, 2018.

A Memphis Fire Department lieutenant who fraudulently collected more than $60,000 in Social Security benefits for his daughters has been sentenced to two years of probation and six months of home confinement.

Phillip Tolbert, 47, of Bartlett, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes Jr. and will serve the first six months of his sentence in home confinement, followed by community service. Tolbert also was ordered to pay $60,528 in restitution.

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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.