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, 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.