One-digit Mistake

shotof social security card and tax form

Everyone makes mistakes, even the government. Due to a one-digit error by the Social Security Administration (SSA), Frederick L. Guth, Jr., 66, of Brewerton, N.Y., collected more than $33,000 of someone else’s benefits.

Guth filed for Social Security in 2016, and the SSA processed his application, but entered the last digit of his Social Security Number (SSN) incorrectly. This caused his claim to be processed under someone else’s name. (While that might seem lucky at first glance, Guth’s luck ran out shortly thereafter.)

In November 2016, Guth began receiving two Social Security payments, one for his SSN and one for another individual. (I wonder how long it took for the other individual to notice they were not receiving their payments.) 

All Guth had to do was notify the SSA of the mistake. (Perhaps he figured it was the SSA’s fault and he would continue to collect the funds without regard for honesty.) And like most fraudsters who receive a large chunk of change they didn’t deserve, Guth spent the money even though he knew he was not entitled to it. The SSA caught the error in July 2018 after Guth had spent $33,812 in Social Security benefits that belonged to someone else.

Guth pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud and faces up to a decade behind bars, although the judge could deliver a lower sentence, perhaps due to his age, when sentenced in November 2021. He’ll undoubtedly have to return the extra $33,812 he spent.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article entitled, “Brewerton man admits taking advantage of Social Security error, keeps $33,000 that wasn’t his,published by on July 31, 2021.

Brewerton, N.Y – After a mistake made by the U.S. Social Security Administration, a Brewerton man collected more than $33,000 of someone else’s benefits for nearly two years, according to federal prosecutors.

Frederick L. Guth Jr., 66, pleaded guilty Thursday to theft of government property, according to a news release Friday from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.



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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.