It all started with a stroke at age 40 and a thyroid cancer diagnosis. A North Philly mom vowed to give her son everything possible, because life is short. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania mother spared no expense to give her only child a prom “send-off” experience that would be remembered for a long time to come. She definitely succeeded in pulling off the grand endeavor (plus another 23 events), thanks to a little assistance from the Social Security Administration (SSA). (She’s now looking at three decades behind bars for committing Social Security disability fraud.)
The mom from North Philly was a soul food restauranteur who was known for community charity work that included a 2017 Christmas block party. Features included a gyrating, hip-hop Santa, ice sculptures and hundreds of toys given to children in her neighborhood. While she was recognized by many for “doing good” for her community, it was complaints from others that opened an investigation into how she could afford the plethora of posh parties the woman threw over four years. (At the same time, she took home more than $37,000 in Social Security disability benefits.)
The woman became known as the “Camel Prom Mom” after renting a camel to be part of her lavish Dubai-themed prom send-off for her only son. (This particular party, which featured foreign luxury cars and three tons of sand, was just the tip of the sand dune.) She said the party, which cost around $25,000, was funded by her hard work at the restaurant she owned. She had previously appeared in national headlines for throwing a “Black Panther” themed prom party including a caged panther. Another party featured Cinderella and a horse-drawn carriage. And yet another paid homage to James Bond, including a helicopter ride for her son’s multiple prom dates. (Quite the lucky guy, or at least he thought that at the time.)
While the Philly mom was paying tens of thousands of dollars to spoil her son, she continued to collect Social Security disability checks while reporting that she was unable to work due to the stroke she suffered, thyroid cancer and from being hit by a car. (She told newspapers that she had promised to “go all out” if she lived to see her son reach his senior year in high school.)
Well, you can definitely say that the 44-year-old mom went all out. And, now she must pay out. After pleading guilty to Social Security disability fraud, she was told by the judge that she could go to jail for 30 years. (It is more likely that she will receive a far less punishment when sentenced.) Not wanting to be a party pooper, the North Philly mom made her first installment payment on the $37,000 debt she owes on the way out of the courtroom.
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Philly’s ‘Camel Prom Mom’ admits to collecting government disability while working to fund lavish parties,” published by The Inquirer on January 15, 2019.
The fabulous life of Saudia Shuler — Philadelphia’s Instagram-famous “Camel Prom Mom,” who became a viral sensation in 2017 after hosting a lavish Dubai-themed prom send-off for her son featuring foreign luxury cars, three tons of sand, and, yes, a rented dromedary — just went from “glammed up” to “jammed up.”
On Tuesday, the 44-year-old single mother pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges and admitted she collected Social Security disability payments for years while failing to report income that would have made her ineligible.