In-Law to Out-Law

Partial view of Social Security card, US Treasury checks and hundred dollar bills. Finance and retirement concept.

Debbie Moore, 57, of Springfield, Mass., pleaded guilty and was sentenced for stealing over $260,000 in Social Security Retirement benefits on behalf of a dead relative. (Fraudsters who commit this kind of crime wrongly think their secret will go to the grave with their loved one.)

Between November 2003 and February 2018, the Social Security Administration (SSA) deposited $261,933 in benefits into a bank account that was controlled by Moore. (This surprisingly common crime called “deceased payee fraud” went on for almost 15 years in this case. As time went on, Moore probably thought she was invincible.) 

The retirement benefits were intended for Moore’s aunt-in-law, who passed away. Moore was in charge of the bank account, so most likely she did not notify the SSA of the woman’s death. (And the government benefits kept coming.) The fraudulently obtained money was later used by Moore for personal expenses. (No surprise there.)

Moore pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government money and she was sentenced to five years of supervised release after serving six months of house arrest. She will also have to pay $261,933 in restitution. (My guess is that she has gone from in-law to out-law with that side of the family. Family gatherings could be a bit tense.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Massachusetts Woman Sentenced to Probation for Stealing $260,000 in Social Security Benefits,” published by New Bedford Guide on July 29, 2021.

A Springfield woman was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Boston for stealing more than $260,000 in government benefits.

Debbie Moore, 57, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to five years of supervised release, with the first six months served under house arrest, and was ordered to pay restitution of $261,933. The government recommended a sentence of 18 months in prison. In September 2020, Moore pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government money.


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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.