Not to be Deterred

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

Some fraudsters refuse to be deterred from carrying out illegal schemes. Even multiple convictions don’t seem to stop them. Shonta Nelson, 46, a.k.a. Meoshi Williams, was previously convicted in 2015 for stealing money from the fund that compensated victims from the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill disaster. That conviction didn’t stop her from perpetrating another scheme that involved lying to the Social Security Administration (SSA). (She was either very courageous, or outright stupid.)

In the scheme that involved the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill disaster, an industrial disaster that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, Nelson submitted false claims for personal income loss and convinced her family and friends to do the same. (She recruited a number of people to participate in the scam and skimmed off some of the money they received. That should not surprise you.)

Since that scheme only appeared to whet her appetite for more fraud, the Mobile, Ala., woman also lied to the SSA so she could receive and manage agency benefits for people who lived in three of her group boarding homes. Nelson applied to the SSA’s Representative Payee Program, but failed to disclose that she was a convicted felon as of June 23, 2015. (Oh yeah, about that previous guilty plea regarding mail and access device fraud charges. Pay no attention to that, please.) Thankfully, once the SSA realized that Nelson had a former conviction, the agency barred her from serving as a representative payee and reassigned her beneficiaries, or victims, so to speak.

Again, as not to be deterred, Nelson went around those SSA restrictions and once again enlisted her family and friends to become representative payees for residents who lived in her group homes. Nelson had them serve in name only, and she once again collected the government benefits. (Sneaky is not the correct term her. “Determined to defraud despite the possibility of repercussions” seems like a better fit.)  

According to court documents, Nelson skimmed 75% from each of her six SSA beneficiaries for room and board. This amount averaged more than $500 per month, which exceeded the fair market value of rent by up to four times. Nelson also collected food stamps from some of her victims.

Nelson was sentenced by the U.S. District Court to 6 months in prison, three years of supervised release and she must pay SSA more than $107,000 in restitution for lying to the SSA. (We can only hope that her upcoming stint in federal prison will reinforce the message that the U.S. Government will not tolerate crimes against the elderly and vulnerable.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Mobile Woman Sentenced for Social Security Benefits Fraud Scheme Targeting Vulnerable Residents of Her Group Homes,” dated September 14, 2021.

MOBILE, AL – The U.S. District Court sentenced a Mobile woman to 6 months in prison, 3 years of supervised release and ordered her to pay the Social Security Administration over $107,000 in restitution for lying to the Social Security Administration (SSA) to get the benefits of vulnerable persons whom she overcharged for room and board in her group boarding homes in Mobile.

According to court documents and testimony at her sentencing hearing today, Meoshi Shonta Nelson, 46, also known as Meoshi Williams, was previously convicted in 2015 of federal felony mail and access device fraud charges for stealing money from the fund established to compensate those with losses from the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill disaster. In that scheme, she submitted false claims for personal income loss and recruited family and friends to do the same, keeping some of the money they received. Nelson later lied to the SSA to obtain approval to receive and manage SSA benefits of persons who lived in three of her group boarding homes in the Mobile area. Specifically, as an applicant to the SSA’s Representative Payee Program, Nelson was required but failed to disclose that she was a convicted felon as of June 23, 2015, when she pleaded guilty to the mail and access device fraud charges described above.

 

 

 

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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.