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Federal employee sentenced for fraud

On Jan. 6, a Social Security Administration employee received a 15-month federal prison sentence for fraud. The 36-year-old California woman was accused of stealing $176,015 in Social Security payments while she had access to the beneficiaries' computer records. She was taken into custody in September 2019 and pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud the next month.

The woman began working for the SSA as a customer service representative in 2007. While working in the Fountain Valley office, she had direct contact with benefit applicants and recipients. While performing her normal daily job duties, she was able to access SSA computer databases. From April 2017 to August 2019, federal prosecutors say that the woman replaced benefit recipients' direct deposit information with her own personal bank account information so that she would receive their Social Security payments.

According to reports, many of the people who did not receive their payments due to the woman's actions were adults with intellectual disabilities. The people were receiving benefits for a disability that began before their 22nd birthday. There was also one person who was receiving retirement benefits and another person who was receiving disability benefits.

A worker who has access to sensitive records could be accused of fraud and other federal crimes when something goes wrong. A lawyer may be able to help people in this situation to prove that they did not commit any intentional fraudulent acts. A solid defense strategy may include character witnesses, eyewitness testimony from other people in the office and evidence gathered by a forensic accountant.

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