Bagel Bamboozlement?

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What do disability claims and bagels have in common? They both have holes. At least that’s potentially the case in today’s Fraud of the Day from the And, the joke is pretty funny…unless you’re thinking like a taxpayer.

The article reports that a former Long Island mail carrier who claimed she was unable to work because she said she injured her back six years ago was recently discovered to be working in a bagel shop. The woman was caught on video surveillance tapes baking and serving customers with no apparent pain. According to her co-workers, she has been working nearly full-time for five years.

Over the course of these five years, she allegedly appropriated $143,000 in federal disability checks – all while slaving over a hot oven. The article cited comments from neighbors and co-workers who noted that she often worked ten-hour shifts and that she had no problem crouching down to weed her garden. Maybe it’s just working as a mail carrier that causes her pain. Her alleged boss at the bagel shop claimed to have no idea who she is.

She was arrested and charged with mail fraud. (Oh, the irony.) She is, of course, innocent until proven guilty. If convicted, she could face five years in prison and be ordered to make full restitution. (If one bagel equals $1.43, how many bagels will it take to recover $143,000?)

If disability fraud is potentially this easy, how can agencies protect themselves against it? Identity-based filters and background checks is one way. Checking for oven burns is another.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled ”Feds: $143,000 Disability Ripoff” written by Vera Chinese and John Marzulli and published by on May 13, 2012.

Alice Brown works full-time at a Long Island bagel store, but her monthly wages come with a nice schmear: $2,762 in disability from the Postal Service.

Brown’s co-workers told the feds that she has been working at Strathmore’s full-time for nearly five years. But that didn’t stop her from pocketing the monthly disability check, which is delivered to her home in Mastic every month by a hardworking letter carrier.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.