Pushing Buttons

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Social security card and American money dollar bills close up concept

Technology is amazing. With the push of a button, lots of good things can be accomplished. For example, with just one push of a crosswalk button, busy intersections become parking lots for 30 seconds so pedestrians can walk safely across the road. By pushing the home button on an iPhone, you can instantly connect to the world wide web in seconds to research any topic of choice. A Selma, California man used the buttons on his keyboard while working at the Social Security Administration (SSA) to commit Social Security fraud. (In the process he pushed the federal government’s buttons – definitely not a good thing.)

The Californian’s job involved helping citizens access their social security benefits. (His definition of helping was a bit different from the government’s definition of the same term.) The SSA worker carried out his Social Security fraud scheme by recruiting willing Social Security benefit recipients to accept a little extra cash, take a little off the top, then give the rest to him. (After all, the government has so much money, why not spread it around? Go ahead, you deserve it!)

The government worker persuaded his co-conspirators to receive fraudulent payments in addition to the Social Security benefits they were already entitled to receive. In exchange for the additional benefit payments, the beneficiaries met him in person to give him the extra cash. (There was some mutual back scratching going on there for sure.) With a few clicks of the SSA worker’s computer keys, he enabled the illegal collection of $446,000 in over payments.

The 45-year-old man from Selma pleaded guilty to committing Social Security fraud for obtaining unauthorized benefits. When sentenced, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. (While this guy was accustomed to pushing the “Easy” button, it looks like this fraudster’s button pushing days are about to be over. I doubt his punishment for carrying out his Social Security fraud will be very easy.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, “Selma man faces up to 20 years in prison for Social Security payment scheme,” posted on KMPH.com on October 2, 2019.

SELMA, Calif. (FOX26) — A Selma man that worked helping people access their social security benefits has been sentenced to prison time.

The Department of Justice says that 45-year-old Martin Hernandez also helped some get overpaid, and kept some of the cut.

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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.