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Desperation sometimes causes people to do things that they wouldn’t ordinarily do to survive. We don’t know the background on how a Saco, Maine woman ended up homeless, but we do know that she committed nearly $86,000 in Social Security fraud by exploiting her children who no longer live with her.

The 36-year-old woman from Saco used her two daughters, who were born two years apart, to collect Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The children, who were severely disabled qualified for the government benefits which are earmarked for individuals with limited income who are blind, disabled, or elderly. The Saco woman was designated as the representative payee who could spend her daughters’ benefits for their daily needs. (It’s a pretty good guess that she did not spend the government-provided money on her children.)

The mother ended her parental rights and lost custody of her two disabled daughters. The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families gained permanent custody of the two girls, but the mother continued to receive SSI benefits on behalf of her children. (The mother did not notify SSA of the change in custody and received about $86,000 over five years on their behalf.) Because the mother was also an SSI benefits recipient, she caused an additional loss to the benefits program. (Being honest about her situation would have reduced her eligibility to receive SSI benefits, so this mom kept mum.)

This mother’s Social Security fraud scheme was blown wide open when a state social worker visited a Social Security field office to pick up Social Security cards for the two daughters who are now in state custody. (This is where the social worker learned that the mother had been collecting SSI benefits the entire time that the girls were in Massachusetts’ state custody.)

After pleading guilty, the Saco, Maine woman now faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for committing Social Security fraud. (Good luck with collecting the $250,000 fine.) She’s also looking at an additional decade in prison and another $250,000 fine for theft of public money. (I don’t think the government will see a nickel of that.) Following her time behind bars is up to three years of supervised release. One can only hope that the bright spot in this case is that her daughters are receiving the care that they desperately need and deserve.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, Saco woman pleads guilty to Social Security fraud,” published by Press Herald on April 26, 2019.  

A Saco woman pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to collecting Social Security benefits for two children who were not in her custody.

Kelly McCabe, 36, of Saco, pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud and theft of public money at U.S. District Court in Portland, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

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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.