If you've ever watched funny videos showing thieves undoing themselves, or read weird news stories about criminals who do stupid things, you have an idea of how we feel at Social Security when we learn about some of the people who try (and fail) to defraud taxpayers. Social Security's employees and our Office of the Inspector General diligently work to uncover fraud and prosecute offenders to the full extent of the law. We take fraud seriously. Here are some real Social Security fraud stories.
Police rushed to the house of a Florida man who'd been shot in the face. The gunshot victim was in possession of about 250 stolen Social Security checks. He got batches of checks from a postal worker who was stealing them from the mail and had been selling the stolen checks on the street. The victim cooperated with authorities and received a sentence of two years in federal prison for theft of government funds and theft of mail.
A Maryland waterman falsely certified he was not working, even though he owned and operated two profitable fishing boats while collecting disability benefits. He racked up $36,691 in disability benefits and $35,610 in Medicare services. He has been indicted and faces up to 10 years in prison for theft of government property and five years in prison for making a false statement to Social Security and for improper receipt of benefits.
A Pennsylvania man pled guilty to pocketing more than $304,000 of his deceased mother's Social Security benefits for 40 years after her death in 1973.
While Social Security employees are always on the lookout for fraud and have historically been one of our best weapons against it, we also rely on you to let us know when you suspect someone is committing fraud against Social Security. They are, in fact, stealing your tax dollars. Reporting fraud is a smart thing to do. It's easy to report fraud online by visiting the Fraud, Waste and Abuse page at oig.ssa.gov/report.
Reporting fraud is the smart (and right) thing to do.