A Whatcom County woman who impersonated her dead mother in order to receive her mother's pension benefits has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Loewen B. Craft, 60, pleaded guilty in Whatcom County Superior Court to first-degree theft, first-degree identity theft and six counts of forgery. She will have to pay nearly $400,000 in restitution for fraudulently receiving pension benefits and government services, according to the sentence handed down Thursday, Feb. 2.
Craft had admitted her mother, Betty Becker, into St. Joseph hospital a few days before Becker's death in 2007. She provided a different name and date of birth for her mother so she could continue to collect her mother's social security and pension checks, according to court documents.
After Becker died, Craft obtained a false identity for her mother and used that to cash her mother's pension checks from Chevron, which netted her $145,000, according to court documents. She'll have to pay that money back as part of her restitution.
She told the Social Security Administration that it was her aunt, rather than her mother, who died so she could collect her mother's social security, but she was unable to convince administration workers.
At the same time that she was collecting more than $3,000 per month from her mother's pension, Craft claimed she did not have any income in order to receive services and benefits from the state Department of Social and Health Services and the U.S. Social Security Administration.
Becker will have to pay DSHS $217,000 for restitution, with another $30,000 for SSA because she had income when she claimed she didn't.
Craft was arrested while masquerading as her mother at a bank in Ferndale on March 2, after the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office heard concerns from family members and discussed the theft with Chevron's human resources department.