There have been quite a few cases this year of people being accused or convicted of stealing Social Security benefits intended for others, including family members. There were two such cases in the news this week, both involving people receiving benefits intended for their parents.
In one case, a Maryland man has been sentenced to one year in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, after being convicted of stealing money intended for his mother, according to Baltimore TV station WJZ.
The man received more than $224,000 monthly in benefits over a period spanning nearly two decades, between 1997 and 2018. The payments began the month the mother died, and he did not inform the Social Security Administration. The sentence followed a plea deal.
In this case, in addition to the length of the crime, the deception involved more effort and extra steps than most.
“As his mother’s son and representative beneficiary, Lester was charged with issuing his mother’s retirement benefits on her behalf and required to file annual reports documenting transactions with those funds,” the Justice Department press release said. “Each year, Lester provided false reports detailing how he spent the money on food, housing and personal items. In 2012, Lester chose to receive payments via direct deposit into an account in his name. Account records show that Lester would withdraw virtually all money at the beginning of each month via ATM.”
In another case on the opposite coast, a fifty-eight-year-old woman in California pleaded guilty to federal charges of stealing Social Security payments intended for her late father.
It was a similar case in Maryland, according to the Fresno Bee. The woman in question did not report her father’s death to Social Security and has continued to collect benefits through direct deposit. This theft, according to the report, was $87,000 in benefits and occurred over a six-year period, between 2012 and 2018.
The woman was convicted in February and faces up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She has also agreed to a refund.
The woman “transferred the payments to her own bank accounts and then used the money for personal expenses, including credit card bills and home repairs,” the Justice Department said.
These cases follow a high-profile case earlier this fall in which a woman in Las Vegas was charged with mutilating her husband’s body after his death, and collecting his Social Security benefits for four years, amounting to $120,000. That woman was caught after an anonymous tip.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National importance, is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. Stephen is a co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.