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Connecticut Woman Sentenced for Social Security Benefit Fraud Scheme in Stockton, East Bakersfield, Delano, and Elsewhere

April 25, 2023

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of California:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sashana James, 32, of New London, Connecticut, was sentenced today to one year and one day in prison and ordered to pay $490,485 in restitution for her participation in a conspiracy to steal from the Social Security Administration, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, between October 2016 and June 2021, James participated in a conspiracy to steal Social Security benefits intended for beneficiaries. The conspirators stole personally identifiable information (PII) of numerous Social Security beneficiaries living throughout the United States. The PII included the beneficiaries’ names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers, bank account numbers, and family information. Using the PII, they contacted the Social Security Administration (SSA) customer service representatives and posed as beneficiaries. They then instructed the customer service representatives to change the direct deposit account number associated with the beneficiary’s account to drop accounts, i.e., expendable accounts used to funnel or transfer proceeds of a crime. The customer service representatives – believing that the caller was the true beneficiary – changed the direct deposit account number to one of the drop account numbers supplied.

The debit cards connected to the drop accounts would be mailed to James and other conspirators. On several occasions, James withdrew the stolen Social Security benefit payments from the drop accounts and deposited at least a portion of the money into one or more bank accounts that were accessible to her co-conspirators. The loss to the SSA and the United States resulting from the conspirators’ offenses exceeds $490,000.

This case was the product of an investigation by the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dhruv Sharma prosecuted the case.

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