When Identity Fraud Becomes Impersonation

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In the past, fraudsters have gone out of their way to commit fraud; digging through trash cans and falsifying documents. Modern technology has enabled fraud to be perpetrated at a more comfortable ”digital” distance. But today’s fraud reported in the New York Daily News shows that in some cases, fraudsters are still willing to go the extra mile—even if it means walking it in high heels.

The story details the arrest and conviction of a local man who dressed up as his dead mom in order to continue collecting her Social Security checks…for six years. Jurors were shown a video of the man visiting the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew his mother’s driving license, decked out in a blond wig, sunglasses and a red dress. (Wow, this is hitting a new low!? Taking less than a full day to make their decision – and apparently placing a smiley face on the note announcing the verdict – jurors convicted him of 11 counts including larceny and falsifying records. He now faces up to 83 years in prison.

As for his mom? She died in 2003 at the age of 73. Following her death, the defendant argued over ownership of her $2.2 million home, asserting repeatedly in court documents that she was still alive. (I have her propped up watching TV. She’s fine. Really.? While the circumstances of this fraud are extreme, the result isn’t. Fraudsters routinely claim benefits that they or their family are no longer qualified for. Connecting benefits programs like Social Security to public records – such as death notices – can ferret out this kind of fraud.

And what of the defendant? Maybe in prison he can catch up on the movie ”Psycho,” which stars a character he likened himself to: Norman Bates. Maybe this time he can watch the movie to the end: with Norman Bates sitting behind bars.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Norman Bates Fan Convicted of Dressing Like Dead Mom to Cash her Checks” written by Oren Yaniv and published by the New York Daily News on May 3, 2012.

It was the mother of all scams.

A Norman Bates fan from Brooklyn who dressed up as his dead mom and collected her Social Security checks for six years was convicted of larceny Thursday.

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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.