5 convicted of stealing veteran, social security benefits – Community News
Social Security

5 convicted of stealing veteran, social security benefits

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Five men have been convicted in South Florida for running a plan to steal more than $1.8 million in veterans and Social Security benefits.

A federal jury in Fort Lauderdale last week found Omar Shaquille Bailey and Ronaldo Garfield Green guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud after an eight-day trial, according to court documents. They will be sentenced in January.

Jamare Mason pleaded guilty to his role in the plan on the second day of the trial. Two others, Kadeem Gordon and Mario Ricketts, pleaded guilty before the trial. Two other men suspected of participating in the fraud have not been arrested.

From 2012 to 2017, the group attempted to redirect more than $1.8 million in benefits from more than 100 disabled veterans and Social Security beneficiaries, officials said. The settlement resulted in the actual loss of nearly $1 million, although the federal government reimbursed the victims in full for their stolen benefits.

According to testimony on the trail, the group obtained the victims’ personal information and used it to fraudulently open bank accounts and prepaid debit cards in the victims’ names. The conspirators also forged documents directing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration to deposit benefits into those fraudulent accounts, officials said.

In South Florida and Georgia, cash was withdrawn from ATMs and banks, researchers said. Much of the money was eventually funneled to the plan’s architects in Jamaica, officials said.