Oh…the Irony


Isn’t it ironic how some fraudsters will work very hard to carry off a scam, but earning an honest living is not an option? Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” focuses on a married couple who told multiple lies about their employment situation, then got non-existent references to back up their fibs and as a result, received about $150,000 from the government.

The story details that the couple applied for government assistance while living with a relative. After multiple moves to other locations, they actually worked in various jobs while still claiming unemployment under the address where they originally applied for benefits. Over four years, the two swindlers collected approximately $115,000 more in welfare benefits than they deserved.

Further research shows that the couple tried to appear poorer than they really were, even going to great lengths to create references to back up their bogus story. They claimed to be unemployed with no income or bank accounts while living with the husband’s grandmother. (I wonder if Granny was in on the deal, too?) In reality, the two worked for an auto sales company registered to the man’s father. (They were definitely keeping it all in the family.)

Apparently, the woman was unable to work because she had to take care of her disabled child. She provided a doctor’s letter confirming the son’s condition as part of the justification, but the doctor did not exist. Other faked references confirmed that the husband couldn’t work because he needed to study. (It turns out he never even enrolled at the school he was allegedly attending.)

The two scammers each filed an Alford plea, which means there was enough evidence to convict them, but they did not admit guilt. They were each sentenced to spend six months in jail and pay $150,000 in restitution to multiple government agencies.

This case is a good example of how lies eventually catch up to those who tell them. It’s ironic how much time and energy this couple spent on working to deceive the welfare system. If only they had applied their work ethic to achieve an honest living, the end of this story could have turned out differently.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Couple sentenced for fraud,” published by the Forest Lake Times on March 23, 2016.

Eric Joseph Vacko, 35, and Brittany Ann Vacko, 26, of Forest Lake, were sentenced March 17 to pay $150,000 in restitution to various government agencies and spend 180 days in jail.

The sentences came down from Ramsey County Court about a month after they filed Alford pleas on charges that they defrauded the government, meaning that they didn’t admit guilt but acknowledged that enough evidence existed to convict them.

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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.