Posthumous Fraud

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Some awards are given posthumously. For example, the prestigious Medal of Honor recognizes soldiers who went above and beyond the call of duty while serving their country. Since many of the recipients died during their acts of valor, the medal is often awarded posthumously to the soldier’s next of kin. A story published in the Eagle Tribune tells about a man who stole nearly $150,000 in Social Security benefits awarded posthumously to his father. (This was definitely not something that brought honor to the family name.)

The article states that the government benefits continued to be deposited in a joint account in the names of the father and the son for more than a decade following the father’s death. (Obviously, the benefits should have stopped when the father died, but there are times when relatives do not report a death and continue to receive undeserved payments.

This case was investigated as part of a joint effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Social Security Administration to eliminate posthumous fraud. The story explains that posthumous fraud is often detected through the Medicare Non-Utilization Project, which investigates Medicare beneficiaries who are at least 90 years old and have not used their Medicare Part B benefits for three or more years.

The 60-year-old son pleaded guilty to theft of public money and is scheduled for sentencing.

In this case, no valor was shown, just cowardice on the part of the son. (However, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is worthy of a medal for investigating and prosecuting several unrelated cases through the Medicare Non-Utilization Project involving more than $1 million in stolen government money since October 2013.) Kudos to the agencies involved in this process. It sounds like a very promising method for tracking down and prosecuting posthumous fraud.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled ”Andover Man Pleads Guilty to $149K in Social Security Fraud” published in the Eagle Tribune on January 23, 2015.

BOSTON – An Andover man pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing more than $149,000 in Social Security benefits which should have stopped when his father died more than a decade ago.

Graeme Griffith, 60, pleaded guilty to theft of public money. U.S. District Court Senior Judge Mark L. Wolf scheduled sentencing for April 16. In January 2015, Griffith was charged in a felony Information.

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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.