Like Clockwork

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Partial view of Social Security card, US Treasury checks and hundred dollar bills. Finance and retirement concept.

What would you do with an extra $14,500 a year? Deborah Rossoni, 58, of Lemoore, Calif., collected that amount from the Social Security Administration (SSA) every year, for six years. (There was just one problem – the money did not belong to her, and she didn’t deserve to receive it either.)

The Kings County woman lost her father in July 2012 when he passed away. But she didn’t inform the SSA of his death and continued to collect his Social Security benefits. (I’d like to think that this crime doesn’t happen very often, but unfortunately it does. Fraudsters love free money, especially when they don’t have to do anything to get it.)

The SSA is explicit with instructions on what to do when a family member dies. (There are even several ways that the SSA can be notified so it’s not like it’s a difficult process.)

Rossoni’s father’s SSA benefits were deposited into his bank account every month like clockwork. She transferred the benefit payments into her own bank accounts, then paid off some bills including credit cards and house repairs, as well as other expenditures. (Receiving $14,500 per year might not sound like much, but that amounts to about $1,200 per month.) 

I’m guessing that Rossoni left quite a paper trail of bank account transfer receipts for investigators. She pleaded guilty to committing Social Security fraud by stealing $87,000 in benefits. She has agreed to pay full restitution to the SSA. When sentenced in February 2022, Rossoni faces a maximum penalty of 10 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration press release, “Kings County Woman Pleads Guilty to Stealing $87,000 in Social Security Benefits,” dated November 8, 2021.

FRESNO, Calif. — Deborah Rossoni, 58, of Lemoore, pleaded guilty today to stealing $87,000 in Social Security payments and agreed to pay full restitution to the Social Security Administration, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, in July 2012, Rossoni’s father passed away, but the SSA was not notified of his death and continued direct depositing Social Security payments into his bank account until July 2018. During this time, Rossoni transferred the payments into her own bank accounts and then used the money for personal expenditures, including credit card bills and house repairs.

 

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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.