One Chapter Of A Fraudsters Story

Unemployment insurance form on a table.

Katrina Pierce was sentenced on February 12, 2023, for a $45,000 income tax scheme using stolen identities. It doesn’t seem like a large amount, but Pierce’s story is described as disturbing history of stealing and assuming false identities and aliases her whole life. This sentence is just one little chapter of a life of crime. From 2019 to 2021, Pierce targeted income tax returns and pandemic unemployment the identities of the dead, including children and adult victims. Call this chapter of her life the “Pandemic Era.”

For two years, Pierce acquired death certificates of murder victims, ranging from 2 to 22 years old, by pretending to be related to them. She then used personal details, such as dates of birth and Social Security numbers, gleaned from the documents to file for tax refunds and pandemic stimulus payments. When Pierce was arrested in 2021, agents found more than 35 death certificates in her home from across the country, including Illinois, California, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and North Carolina.

Among the identities used by Katrina Pierce was that of Amari Brown, the 7-year-old boy fatally shot in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on July 4, 2015, and whose death made headlines at the time. In that case, Pierce posed as Amari’s aunt when requesting his death certificate in 2019, then proceeded to use the stolen information to file a tax return requesting a $4,400 child credit refund check. Investigators had also found that multiple stimulus payments worth $3,200 had been made to a woman named Rajona Pierce, an alias Piece had used in prior criminal cases. ‘Rajona’ had listed just $1 in income from a fake beauty parlor she listed in the applications in order to claim eligibility for COVID stimulus payments.

Many of the applications and refunds contained a mixing of the stolen identities and her own personal details which may have helped the authorities find her. Since she was the only identity actually alive! She was sentenced to five years in prison.

Great job by the COVID Fraud Strike Unit in this investigation.

Today’s Fraud Of The Day is based on article “Woman Used Identities of Dead People to Defraud U.S., Officials Say” published by the New York Times on February 12, 2023

A Chicago woman was sentenced to just over five years in prison after fraudulently obtaining the identities of dozens of dead people, from infants to adults, and using the information to steal more than $45,000 of government funds, according to prosecutors and court records.

The woman, Katrina Pierce, acquired more than 36 death certificates for murder victims in Illinois — ranging from 2 to 22 years old — from 2019 to 2021 by pretending to be related to them, according to court records. She then used personal details, such as dates of birth and Social Security numbers, gleaned from the documents to file for tax refunds and pandemic stimulus payments.

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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.