Florida Woman Sentenced to 12 Months in Prison for $132,000 Deceased Payee Fraud

Friday, August 5, 2016
Office Affiliation: 

From the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Florida:

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – Tanga J. Tarnower, 73, of Navarre, Florida, was sentenced yesterday to 12 months and 1 day in prison and ordered to pay $132,957.70 in restitution to the Social Security Administration after pleading guilty in April 2016 to theft of government money.  The sentence was announced today by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

Between approximately 1997 and 2014, Tarnower stole Social Security benefits that were being paid in the name of her deceased mother, whose benefits were directly deposited into a joint account they held.  When the Social Security Administration was unable to contact Tarnower’s mother, Tarnower was asked to confirm whether her mother was still alive.  Tarnower submitted a counterfeit death certificate fraudulently claiming her mother died in January 2014 to hide the fact she had taken and used her deceased mother’s benefits, when in fact, her mother had died in the mid-1990s.

This case resulted from an investigation by the Social Security Administration-Office of Inspector General.  Assistant United States Attorney Alicia H. Kim prosecuted the case.