Identity theft is a growing issue as people shop online and use credit card numbers, Social Security numbers and other personal information. When Social Security numbers are compromised, that can turn into a serious situation for all involved.
A Maryland man who worked for the Social Security Administration (SSA) has pled guilty to federal charges of theft and identity theft after he used fake identities to file Social Security claims and obtain benefits. In total, he collected more than $236,000 from his scheme.
The 45-year-old man from Baltimore was working for the SSA as a claims specialist for the agency’s Office of International Operations. From July 2018 to March 2019, he engaged in a scheme in which he used identity documents to file fictitious claims for benefits. He used documents that he was allowed access to through his employment with the SSA.
The man’s job entailed reviewing the identity documents of individuals who filed for Social Security benefits while living in foreign countries. He reviewed identity cards, passports and marriage certificates. He would then create fictitious identities in SSA’s database from the information he reviewed on the documents. The identities were issued Social Security numbers and he would then proceed to use them to file fraudulent claims for divorced spouse survivor’s benefits against people who were actually deceased. He then opened bank accounts in the names of the beneficiaries he falsely created and directed benefit payments to those accounts.
The man would use either his home address or an address in Quebec, Canada, that he used for a mail forwarding service to make it appear as though the claimants lived abroad. At these addresses, he would receive mail associated with his scheme, including benefits payments and Social Security cards.
In all, the man submitted nine fraudulent claims based on stolen and fictitious identities. The SSA paid roughly $87,000 in fraudulent claims through direct deposit and issued close to $46,000 in checks that were never negotiated. The agency also authorized about $103,000 in claims, but halted those payments. The man received and spent $82,047 from the scheme.
The man was arrested and pled guilty to federal charges. He is forced to pay $83,247 in restitution. He must also forfeit the $30,000 that was seized from his home as well pay a money judgment for $51,107.
The man faces up to 10 years in federal prison for theft of government property. He faces a mandatory minimum of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft. His sentencing is scheduled for April 19, 2021.
When a person works with Social Security numbers and other sensitive information, it can be tempting to use this personal data for financial gain. However, this is illegal and can lead to felony charges, fines, prison time and other punishment.
Fraud cases often involve state and federal charges. Seek legal help from the Columbia white collar crime lawyers at The Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. We will provide aggressive representation for your case. Fill out the online form or call (410) 774-5987 for a free consultation. We have two offices to serve you.
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