Woman Allegedly Assumes Dead Aunt’s Identity: Feds say a woman from New Jersey stole more than $1 million in benefits that were supposed to go to her late aunt who died in 1998. As per the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the 77-year-old woman from South Orange took in her aunt’s Social Security Administration retirement benefits and surviving spouse benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for 25 years.
Woman Allegedly Assumes Dead Aunt’s Identity, Swindles $1 Million in Benefits
On December 27, information about her lawyer wasn’t accessible. An SSA worker called the woman’s aunt’s stated number in October 2022 to see if she was still alive. The aunt “would have been over 100 years old,” according to the criminal charge.
As the lawsuit says, the woman is accused of answering the phone as her aunt and giving the SSA worker her aunt’s “approximate birthdate.” The lawsuit says she stole $1,011,004.85 in benefits from 1998 to 2023. As part of the theft, the woman was caught on December 21 and charged with wire fraud, the attorney’s office said in a news statement that same day.
Prosecutors say that the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management kept putting money into the aunt of the woman until her death was found. The lawsuit says that the woman took out about $70,000 in stolen benefits using a bank card and paid for it with cash.
The lawsuit also says that she wrote fake checks for $130,000 that were made out to her own business and signed with her aunt’s name. The name of the company wasn’t given. The lawsuit says she spent thousands of extra benefits on things like gas and food.
“She illegally spent almost all of those stolen funds,” authorities said in the release.
The release says that if the woman is found guilty of one count of wire fraud, she could spend up to 20 years in jail and/or pay a fine of up to $250,000 or “twice the pecuniary gain or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greater.” New York City is about 20 miles to the west of South Orange.