Liar’s Lottery

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shotof social security card and tax form

Jenna Nichole Castaneda, 30, of Twin Falls, Idaho hit the government benefits jackpot when she knowingly lied about her husband’s income to the Social Security Administration (SSA). She didn’t do it just one time. It happened on multiple occasions between 2013 and 2018.

As a result of Castaneda’s lie about her husband’s salary, she received $42,451.44 in Supplemental Security Income benefits for herself and her child. (She was not entitled to these benefits.)

The wife and mother did not stop there. She also applied for benefits from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Again, when filling out the applications, she underreported and misrepresented her husband’s income. This time, she received Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) benefits, and Aid to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled benefits totaling $64,842.22. She collected $107,293.73 in benefits for herself and her kids. (You could say she won the liar’s lottery. But it wasn’t long before she had to give it all up.)

Castaneda continued her ruse for five years and in the meantime undermined the SSA’s mission to provide assistance to vulnerable citizens who deserved assistance. She pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud and was sentenced to serve five years of probation. (She’s lucky she didn’t have to go to prison for her illegal acts.) In addition, Castaneda must pay $107,293.73 in restitution to the SSA and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Twin Falls Woman Sentenced for Benefit Fraud,” dated November 19, 2021.

BOISE – A Twin Falls woman was sentenced to five years of probation for social security fraud.

According to court records, Jenna Nichole Castaneda, 30, of Twin Falls, knowingly and intentionally underreported and misrepresented her husband’s income to the Social Security Administration on multiple occasions from 2013 to 2018. As a result, Castaneda received $42,451.41 in Supplemental Security Income benefits on behalf of herself and her child, to which she was not entitled. Castaneda also applied for and received additional benefits that were administered by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. In her applications, she underreported and misrepresented her husband’s income. As a result, she erroneously received Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, and Aid to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled benefits totaling $64,842.22. As a result of her intentional misreporting, Castaneda fraudulently received $107,293.73 in benefits for herself and her children.

Chief U.S. District Judge David C. Nye also ordered Castaneda to pay $107,293.73 in restitution to the Social Security Administration and Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Castaneda pleaded guilty to the charge on January 22, 2021.

 

 

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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.