Beware of Criminal Mothers

Partial view of Social Security card and US Treasury checks. Finance and retirement income concept. Seclective focus.

One of the many responsibilities of being a parent includes being a protector. A lot of effort is put forth to warn children of strangers, but what happens when it’s the parent that is the problem? Melissa D. Wasylak, 49, of East Alton, Ill., stole her disabled daughter’s Social Security Income (SSI) benefits and used them to pay her own personal expenses. (I’d say she is definitely the problem.) 

The disabled daughter was eligible to receive the government funds, which are required by Federal Law to be used for the benefit of the disabled child. Wasylak not only applied for her daughter to receive the funds, but she was also appointed as her daughter’s representative payee. (Wasylak’s responsibility was to handle the government funds and report to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Well, as you might guess, the mother was not completely honest.)

The daughter moved in with Wasylak’s ex-husband in 2008, but the mother continued to collect her daughter’s SSI funds, using the money to pay her own personal expenses instead of her daughter’s. (Apparently, she kept her ex in the dark.) In May of 2019, approximately 11 years after the daughter moved out, someone reported the situation to the SSA. (This is a good example of if you see or hear something. Please say something.)

Wasylak was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison for stealing her disabled daughter’s SSI benefits. She is also required to serve two years of supervised release after her prison term is over and pay $58,345 in restitution to the SSA. (Let’s hope that the father is a much better protector, and his disabled daughter is able to receive the assistance that she qualifies for and deserves.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “East Alton Woman Sentenced to 14 Months in Prison for Stealing Disabled Daughter’s Social Security Funds,” dated October 29, 2021.

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – An East Alton, Illinois, woman was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison for stealing her disabled daughter’s Social Security funds. The sentencing hearing was conducted this morning in Federal Court in East St. Louis, Illinois.

The Social Security Administration administers the Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”)
program. SSI provides a minimum level of income to aged, blind, and disabled individuals who have limited resources. Disabled children are eligible to receive SSI benefits.   For children, SSI benefits are paid to a representative payee, who is responsible for handling the funds and
reporting to the Social Security Administration. Federal law requires that all SSI funds must be used for the benefit of the disabled child.


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Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.