Too Much Information

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Thief holding a social security card.

Death is hard for loved ones left behind. The grief experienced after someone we love departs this world can cause us to be depressed and stressed. It’s quite possible you will experience those same feelings once you read about today’s fraudster.

Nancy Shedleski, 69, of Las Vegas, Nev., is accused of defrauding the Social Security Administration (SSA) by collecting her deceased husband’s retirement benefits. As if that is not bad enough, consider that she confessed to dismembering and disposing of her husband’s body following his death in 2015. (According to a federal criminal complaint, she threw his remains in the trash. Sorry if that’s too much information.)

Usually, when someone dies, either a spouse, family member, or funeral home reports the death to SSA. Shedleski did not report the death and continued to deposit his monthly retirement benefits totaling $121,000 following his death at their Pennsylvania home. Shedleski seemed to have everything under wraps until an anonymous tip in 2019 claimed the husband had disappeared. (Perhaps it was a nosey neighbor or family member who became suspicious.)

If Shedleski had reported her husband’s death as required, her survivors benefits in 2019 would have been $14,000. Because she did not report his death, she received $24,000 that year. When federal officials contacted Shedleski to find out where her husband was, she initially said he was travelling. (Then apparently, her conscience got the better of her and she confessed to disposing of his body after his death. Let’s hope that he was actually dead before that happened.)

The husband, who was in his 70s when he passed away, last received medical care in 2015 near Pittsburgh. While we don’t know what the husband died of, the accused wife confirmed that no ambulance came to their house. There was no funeral, burial or cremation. (He simply disappeared into the back of a trash truck.)

Fast forward two years and Shedleski moved to an apartment in Las Vegas in 2017. (Perhaps she was seeking a fresh start or maybe she wanted to take her husband’s retirement benefits and try her luck at the casinos. Who knows?) The law finally caught up with her and she was arrested, charged with theft of government money, and released on her own recognizance pending an upcoming court hearing. (Time will tell what happens to this woman who delved into the macabre to steal her husband’s benefits.) 

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Las Vegas woman allegedly dismembered husband’s body, stole his Social Security benefits,” published by USA Today on October 27, 2021.

LAS VEGAS — A 69-year-old Las Vegas woman is accused of defrauding Social Security for years after she allegedly dismembered her dead husband’s body and threw his remains in the trash, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Nancy Shedleski deposited $121,000 of her husband’s retirement benefits after his 2015 death, and Social Security officials didn’t know anything was wrong until they received an anonymous tip in 2019 that the husband had disappeared, according to the complaint filed last week in Nevada.

 

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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.