Deep-Sixing Fraud

40194003 - elderly woman using a walker at home.

It’s pretty atrocious when a fraudster takes advantage of a deceased person’s identification to collect undeserved government benefits, but when someone uses their own family members to line their pockets with cash, that’s pretty low too. An article published by the Knoxville News Sentinel tells the story of a woman who used her two dead aunts to live a pretty nice life, unbeknownst to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The article states that for approximately 19 years, the niece cashed almost $250,000 in Social Security benefits intended for her two deceased relatives. One of the aunts lived with the woman up until her death. Two months following that aunt’s death, a second aunt died. (Obviously, the niece did not notify the SSA of either death and continued to collect the benefit checks, which arrived in the mailbox each month.) The woman cashed the checks by forging her aunts’ signatures.

It took the SSA 11 years to figure out that something was amiss. The niece was arrested and sentenced to five months in jail followed by three years of supervised release for collecting benefits for the second deceased aunt. All the while, she continued to collect SSA benefits for the first aunt, even while under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office. (The woman actually moved to a different location, but kept the first location so she could continue to collect the first aunt’s benefits checks. Now that is devious.)

Another seven years passed and the local Social Security office realized that the first aunt would be 103 years old, if actually alive. That discovery led to the niece’s investigation and arrest for the second time. She was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to repay the SSA $243,000 for her fraudulent activities. What are the odds that we’ll ever see that money?

She tried to appeal her conviction. Fortunately, the appellate court deep-sixed her request citing that she had no right to complain due to her plea deal. (Finally, it looks like justice is served in this case.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Hawkins County Woman Stole Dead Aunt’s Benefits Under Nose of Federal Authorities,” written by Jamie Satterfield and published by the Knoxville News Sentinel on October 16, 2014.

For 19 years, Dinsmore ripped off the Social Security Administration by forging and cashing nearly a quarter-million dollars in benefits checks the agency sent to two of her dead relatives. Now, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is deep-sixing a bid by Dinsmore to escape her 30-month federal prison term.

The appellate court, which reviews federal cases in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan, late last week tossed out Dinsmore’s appeal of what is now her second federal fraud conviction, ruling she gave up the right to complain when she took a plea deal.

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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.