Stealing from Children

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The job of ”representative payee” for children who receive Social Security benefits comes with much responsibility. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is serious about making sure there is no abuse of the system. Representative payees are supposed to know what the beneficiary’s needs are and determine the best way to use the government benefits to take care of them. Unfortunately, a New York mother used her child’s Social Security benefits to line her pockets with nearly $80,000, instead of using them to take care of her son.

According to the SSA, a representative payee is supposed to use the government payments to benefit the entitled individual. This includes paying for things like food, clothing, shelter, utilities, medical care and insurance, dental care, personal hygiene, education and rehabilitation expenses. If there is any money left over after taking care of the beneficiary’s needs, the representative payee is supposed to save and/or invest the remaining funds for the beneficiary. (This woman decided to lie about her position as representative payee and kept the funds for herself instead of using them to take care of her son.)

Over three years, the mother complied with SSA requirements by submitting forms claiming she cared for her son, who lived with her. But, her son didn’t live with her. (His grandparents were primary physical custodians and had the sole decision-making authority for their grandson.) Because of her bogus claims, she collected $37,629 plus another $40,629 in benefits that should have been paid to her son. (I wonder if the grandparents turned her in.)

The 41-year-old pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud. She also admitted that she lied about her son living with her because she knew if she told the truth, she would not be able to receive the government benefits. When sentenced, she faces up to 10 years in prison, supervised release of up to three years and a $250,000 fine. (Part of her sentencing should include lessons on how to be a better parent. Children are not meant to be a pawn to be used in the world of fraud.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Glenmont woman, 41, pleads guilty to Social Security fraud,” published by Times Union on October 18, 2016.

ALBANY – Tammy A. Grumme, 41, of Glenmont, pled guilty Monday to stealing nearly $80,000 from the Social Security Administration, including $40,629 in benefits intended for her son.

As part of her plea, Grumme admitted that in 2011, 2012, and 2013, she submitted forms to the SSA claiming that she cared for her son and that her son resided with her when her son was no longer in her custody and did not live with her. Grumme also admitted that she reported that her son resided with her because she knew she would not be entitled to benefits if he resided elsewhere. As a result of her misrepresentations, she received $37,629 in benefits she was not entitled to receive and an additional $40,629 in benefits that should have been paid to her son.

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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.