Civil Disservice

Thief holding a social security card.

With great access comes great opportunity for fraud, as evidenced by the scheme perpetrated by a claims specialist in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of International Operations. Cheikh Almet Tidiane Cisse of Baltimore, Maryland, began using his position and SSA systems to siphon funds from a benefit claim on a real person’s Social Security record to his own bank account. (None of that government ethics training stuck, apparently.)

Cisse then began expanding his scheme to include other real and fictitious people, and other benefit claims on citizens records — to the tune of more than $236K in less than a year. Part of Cisse’s job was reviewing documents of social security claimants who lived abroad, giving him the opportunity to steal identities and establish new SSA accounts. He sometimes diverted fraudulent payments to an address in Quebec, Canada for a mail forwarding service, to make it appear the fictitious claimants lived abroad. (A “foreign aid” program engineered to go straight to his own pocket.)

Fortunately, the agency caught on to his international intrigue before he could spend all the fraudulent benefits. He received and spent more than $82,000, but the SSA halted $103,000 in claims, and Cisse never got to cash about $46,000 in checks. (While many legitimate social security recipients are choosing between buying groceries and paying for badly needed healthcare, this greedy lowlife is too busy raking it in to process the benefit checks he stole.)

In January 2021, Cisse pleaded guilty to theft of government property and aggravated identity theft. On April 19, 2021, Cisse was sentenced to three years and a day in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. (Uncle Sam wants him to stay clean—and unable to ever again hold a position of public trust.) Cisse must also pay restitution of over $83,000, forfeit $30,000 seized from his home, and pay a money judgment of $51,107.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, “Former Social Security Employee Sentenced to Three Years in Federal Prison for a Scheme to Obtain Over $236,000 in Social Security Benefits by Submitting Fictitious Claims,” dated April 19, 2021.

Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III sentenced Cheikh Ahmet Tidiane Cisse, age 45, of Baltimore, Maryland, today to three years and a day in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release for theft of government property and aggravated identity theft, in connection with a scheme in which Cisse filed fraudulent claims for Social Security benefits using fictitious identities and the identities of actual individuals, and attempted to collected over $236,000.  Judge Russell also ordered Cisse to pay restitution of $83,247 and forfeit $30,000 seized from Cisse’s home and pay a money judgment in the amount of $51,107.

The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner and Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration.

Additional information is provided in a press release from the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, “Former Social Security Employee Pleads Guilty to Theft,” dated January 16, 2021.

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Larry Benson
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.