Faking a Family

Social Security cards with cash and benefit amount numbers

Terrie Lynn Christian, of Newaygo, Mich., pled guilty to defrauding the Social Security Administration (SSA) of over $550,000 in benefits for two fictitious children. Christian’s scheme started in 2002, but it was not discovered until 2019. (Developing a fraud scheme that involves pretending to have children that don’t exist is a new type of low.)

In addition to defrauding the SSA, Christian also admitted to committing the same fraud against the United States Department of Veterans Affairs where she received over $109,000. (She’s an equal opportunity fraudster.)

“Ms. Christian created fictitious identities and falsified documents to obtain Social Security benefits for non-existent people for nearly 17 years,” said Inspector General for the SSA, Gail S. Ennis. “Her egregious acts resulted in a fraud loss of over $540,000.” (Children are expensive for sure, but it appears that non-existent kids cost Uncle Sam more than half a million dollars.)

In March 2022, Christian was sentenced to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay restitution. The judge felt the sentence was deserved due to Christian stealing benefits meant to assist the poor and children of military members. (I doubt her fake children will be sending any letters to her in jail.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from the Department of Justice press release, “Newaygo Woman Sentenced For Defrauding Social Security and Veterans Program Of Over $650,000,” published on March 22, 2022.

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — A Newaygo woman was sentenced today in U.S. District Court for engaging in a fraudulent scheme that targeted children’s benefits programs administered by the Social Security Administration and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

On October 27, 2021, Terrie Lynn Christian, 58, pled guilty to defrauding the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) of over $550,000 by obtaining benefits for two fictitious children.  The fraud began in 2002 and was not discovered until 2019.  She also admitted to perpetrating the same fraud against the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”).  This scheme netted her over $109,000 between 2003 and 2019.


Previous article‘Till Fraud Do Us Part
Next articleThere’s No Medication for Fraud

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.