What Is Social Security fraud?

Programs such as Social Security and Medicare provide billions of dollars to residents in Florida throughout the country each year. They help the elderly, poor, and disabled stay out of further poverty and allow them to live with dignity. But as large government programs, they are also vulnerable to fraud by malevolent actors. While common, Social Security fraud is still enormously serious and can lead to substantial charges against anybody convicted of this crime.

What is Social Security fraud?

Fraud is the practice of obtaining property through false pretenses. In the case of Social Security fraud, that property is funds taken from the federal government. There are several different ways that perpetrators commit this white-collar crime. One is through identity theft. People pretend they are a person eligible for Social Security payments and then apply for those payments on that person’s behalf.

There are also some instances in which a person may lie on their application for disability funds. Those funds are distributed through the Social Security system. Perpetrators may submit false evidence about their medical condition or supply faked testimony from health care providers. Fraud can only be charged if the individual is successful at receiving stolen funds from the government. But a person could face attempted fraud charges even if they do not end up receiving Social Security payments on their own.

Possible penalties

The penalties of Social Security fraud are connected to amounts and complicating factors. Fraud beyond a certain dollar amount will garner a felony charge. This felony charge will also be heard in federal court. Federal charges often have more severe penalties and a greater chance of the person being charged serving the majority of their sentence. There are also greater charges if one engages in Social Security fraud as part of a conspiracy instead of simply on their own.