If the Truth Be Told

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SOCIAL SECURITY CONCEPT

People generally lie because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and they are fearful of the consequences of telling the truth. Ironically, a Bluefield, West Virginia woman lied to the Social Security Administration (SSA) because she feared that a significant source of income would dry up. If the truth be told, her punishment for Social Security fraud may not have been as harsh if she had only been honest. 

The West Virginian applied for Title II Social Security benefits, which is for disabled individuals who suffer from a long-term or permanent disability that is expected to last at least a year. At the same time, she also applied to be a representative payee for a minor child. (The article does not clarify if she is the parent of the child, but she claimed that the child lived with her.)

The SSA requires that the Title II beneficiary report any changes in income or living arrangements. Over five years, the woman collected $77,717 in Social Security disability benefits based on her claim that the minor child lived with her. (Obviously, she lied, or you wouldn’t be reading about her case today. She didn’t tell the truth because that meant she would receive less income from the SSA.)

After admitting that she provided false statements regarding the child’s living arrangements, the 43-year-old woman from West Virginia pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud. The judge wasn’t worried about this woman’s feelings when delivering her punishment for lying to the government. She was sentenced to one year and a day in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $77,717. (If she had been honest to begin with, perhaps she wouldn’t be suffering the consequences of her illegal actions to the same extent.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, “Bluefield woman gets 1 year in Social Security benefits fraud case,” published in Bluefield Daily Telegraph on August 14, 2019.

BLUEFIELD — A Bluefield woman was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay restitution Wednesday after pleading guilty to fraudulently obtaining more than $77,000 in Social Security benefits, officials said.

Kimberly Hall, 43, entered the guilty plea on March 21, United States Attorney Mike Stuart said.

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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.