Woman Uses Dead People to Defraud Federal Government

A Chicago woman will spend the next five years in federal prison after authorities convicted her of using the identities of dead people to commit fraud against the federal government. According to the authorities, the woman used the identities to apply for benefits, some of which were disbursed during the coronavirus as pandemic aid packages. 

The woman acquired the identities of murder victims to pull off the scam. Authorities say it netted over $45,000 in profit. The information was used to file tax returns and pandemic-related entitlements. The woman would pose as relatives of the murder victims to collect payments on their behalf.

Prosecutors characterized the theft as “morally repugnant.” The woman had prior convictions for various forms of fraud. The court, in passing sentence, characterized her as a career criminal who had multiple opportunities to turn away from a life of crime but chose fraud anyway. 

Analyzing Fraud Prosecutions

Generally speaking, frauds are prosecuted on the grounds of how much money was stolen, how many victims there were, and how sophisticated the scheme was. All crimes will consider a previous criminal record. In this case, the defendant did 11 years on a previous fraud charge. However, the scope of this fraud was smaller than the frauds you are probably used to reading about in the news. In Florida, some of the frauds go over $1 billion. 

Additionally, while the defendant used the identities of multiple individuals, they were not really the victim of the crime. The federal government was the victim of the crime. Hence, there was really only one victim. 

The prosecution played up the sophistication of the scheme. By sophistication, they mean that there were a lot of moving parts. First, the defendant had to acquire the birth certificates, then file tax returns, then impersonate a relative, and then collect the money. So, there were a lot of moving parts to the crime.

Given the extent of the shamelessness involved in the fraud and the previous conviction for fraud, the defendant was sentenced to just over five years. And she didn’t have to steal all that much money to get that sentence, either. 

How Do You Defend Against This?

At the point at which you have this client, you are defending the client from the sentence, not the client from the crime. Ultimately, five years is not bad when you are going to court with this little leverage. She defrauded a public relief program multiple times and was only charged once. That seems like a win.

Talk to a Chicago White-Collar Defense Attorney Today

David Freidberg represents the interests of Chicago residents who have been charged with white-collar crimes. Call today at (312) 560-7100 to schedule an appointment and learn more about how we can help.

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