No Benefit or Bright Side

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The U.S. government Social Security Agency Building. The entrance sign of the agency. A classical government building for the social security service. Photographed in horizontal format.

A Greene, Oreg., resident convicted of defrauding the Social Security Administration has been sentenced. Edwin N. Harris, 46, previously pleaded guilty to felony counts of concealing income and making false statements of material facts to his entitlement to benefits.

Harris had been collecting benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance as well as Supplemental Security Income that he was not entitled to. In 2016, Harris submitted eligibility forms for Social Security Income benefits that denied he owned business or personal equipment or property not declared elsewhere on the forms.

He also falsely asserted that since March 2014, he hadn’t sold, transferred title or disposed of any money or property. This was despite the fact that Harris entered into an agreement to sell his company, Family Motors, in 2016. (He may have omitted a detail or two from his application.)

Harris also bought a camping property in November 2014 and owned two recreational vehicle campers that he failed to report to the Social Security Administration because he knew it could affect his eligibility to receive benefits.(I bet he wishes he could take his camper and disappear into the great outdoors right about now.)

Both the prosecutors and Harris’ defense attorney recommended that he receive probation instead of prison time. His defense attorney argued that Harris suffers from anxiety and neither reads nor writes due to his “tumultuous upbringing.” (To be fair, he was neglected by his alcoholic mother and left to fend for himself most of his life.)

Additionally, several people wrote letters to the judge as testimonials to Harris’ good character. This included a police detective, his wife, and his stepdaughter. (I’d hope his own family would only have good things to say about him. Although, they too would be punished if he were convicted.)

Harris was sentenced to three years of probation for committing Social Security fraud. He was also ordered to repay the federal agency more than $17,000 in restitution. This represents the overpayment he received from the Social Security Administration between January 2012 and June 2016.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Greene man gets probation for Social Security fraud,” published by Sun Journal on May 26, 2021.

PORTLAND — A Greene man convicted of defrauding the Social Security Administration was sentenced Wednesday to three years of probation.

Edwin N. Harris, 46, pleaded guilty to two felony counts: concealing income and making false statements of material facts to his entitlement to benefits.

 

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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.