Trouble with the In-Laws

Social Security Cards for identification and retirement USA

The relationship between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law can be prickly. When they don’t get along, family relationships across the board can be affected. If the mother-in-law of today’s fraudster was still living, my guess is that their relationship would probably not be so good. If she knew that her daughter-in-law had committed Social Security fraud by collecting her benefits for around 12 years after her death, I imagine things would be a bit tense at family gatherings.

The Delaware woman apparently had a joint checking account with her mother-in-law, which leads you to believe that the daughter-in-law was a trusted family member. However, when the mother-in-law died in 2006, the now 63-year-old woman from Smyrna neglected to inform the Social Security Agency (SSA) of her death. (Meanwhile the monthly $1,100 checks continued to be deposited into the joint checking account.)

On two occasions, in 2013 and 2018, the SSA contacted the daughter-in-law, who pretended to be her mother-in-law, so the SSA benefit deposits would continue. Again, she lied to agency officials and did not tell them that the mother-in-law had died. (By doing so, she racked up more than $175,000 in Social Security benefits she did not deserve.)

Today’s fraudster from Smyrna, Delaware was sentenced to 18 months in prison for committing Social Security fraud of more than $175,000. This conviction brings the idea of trouble with the in-laws to a whole new level. (It’s probably a good thing that her mother-in-law is not around to see the fallout of her daughter-in-law’s illegal actions. Once she gets out of prison, family relationships may be difficult.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, “Smyrna woman sentenced to prison for decade-long Social Security fraud,” published by Delaware State News on September 19, 2019.

WILMINGTON — A 63-year-old Smyrna woman was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in prison for defrauding the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) of more than $175,000.

According to court documents, Deborah Vaughn spent more than a decade collecting fraudulent Social Security funds intended for her deceased mother-in-law.

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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.