Two Palm Beach County women are facing criminal charges after a federal investigation showed they were stealing Social Security benefits from at least five county residents.
Jakisha Fergus, 23, and Natalie Underwood, 26, each face a maximum of about 20 years in prison for charges including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.
The women may have lived together at one point in a Delray Beach home but recent court and Palm Beach County Jail records show Fergus living in Boynton Beach and Underwood living in suburban West Palm Beach.
The investigation into the two began in November 2010 and ended this past February, according to a federal criminal complaint.
The women obtained at least five known victims’ Social Security numbers to acquire their benefits. The victims were only identified in the complaint by their initials: H.S., Q.G., D.P., S.K. and A.F.
They would tell banks, including Comerica Bank, through the phone and Internet to send the victims’ direct express debit cards to addresses Fergus and Underwood could retrieve them from. Then they’d use the cards to withdraw cash from ATMs at banks, including Bank of America.
“The object of the conspiracy was for defendants to unjustly enrich themselves by fraudulently obtaining social security benefits to which they were not entitled,” the complaint says.
Fergus and Underwood already have a criminal history, according to jail records.
From 2009 to 2010, Fergus was arrested on charges including burglary, criminal mischief and trespassing.
Underwood was arrested on charges including resisting an officer and driving with a suspended license from 2010 to 2011, records show.