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, 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.