Apparently Not

Social Security cards with cash and benefit amount numbers

You would think one little tropical island like Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States, would not have much fraud in it. But fraud has no limits, even for a low populated territory of the United States that doesn’t have full rights to social security benefits. On September 29, Judge Muldrow indicted seven people — four women and three men — with allegedly defrauding Social Security and Medicare, for a combined total of $1,021,286. If you heard Judge Muldrow’s cases that day, it might make you ask, besides Judge Muldrow, did anyone do their job?

Sonia I. Vargas Rodriguez for instance, was the owner and representative of Hogar Sendero de Amor, Inc., an elderly care center located in Mayagüez PR. Vargas Rodríguez had two people under his care, and both passed away in 2013 and 2014. But Vargas Rodriguez did not report those deaths to the SSA and continued to cash their checks, totaling $114,590.  What is really alarming though is that the Family Department closed this nursing home in June 2014 due to claims of neglect and abuse. Did anyone check in on the patients?

Apparently not.

Yahaira Cruz Cintron claimed she worked in the United States for eight years, applying for and receiving $196,772.75 from Social Security and $164,694.03 in Medicare. However, Ms. Cintron never worked in the United States. Did anyone check the W-2s?

Apparently not.

Neither of these two individuals should be confused with Norberto Berrios Rodriguez and Pedo Medina-Medina, both of whom had jobs, yet both allegedly collected Social Security benefits and Medicare while doing so. In total they received $174,000. Did anyone confirm they were unemployed?

Apparently not.

The last three fraudsters knowingly stole identities to fraudulently receive benefits. Luis A. Soto Torres was charged for taking $122,483.90 from Social Security when the payments were made in the name of M.S.C. Marialices Cora Martinez was charged for taking $59,079.30 from Social Security when payments were made in the name of L.L.M.  And Janice Rodriguez Mendez was charged for taking $18,784.00 from Social Security when payments were made in the name of A.R.L. Did anyone question why the checks were made out to initials?

Apparently not.

Shout out to the Office of the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration who investigated these cases.

Today’s Fraud of the Day is based on an article “Seven people are accused of millionaire fraud to Social Security and Medicare in Puerto Rico” published by Puerto Rican Spokesman on October 5, 2022

A federal grand jury on September 29 indicted seven people – four women and three men – with defrauding Social Security and Medicare, representing a total loss of $1,021,286.22.As reported by the United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, W. Stephen Muldrow, the defendants arrested yesterday stole thousands of dollars in Social Security (SSA) benefits that did not belong to them.

Previous articleHoʻopunipuni
Next articleCharacter Counts

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.