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, 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.