Fraud Allegations: Where They Come From, What We Do With Them

Beyond the Numbers

Monday, June 25, 2018
Posted by: 
The Communications Division

Every year, the OIG receives thousands of Social Security fraud allegations. These allegations may involve Social Security benefit theft, Social Security number misuse, SSA employee fraud, and other suspected offenses.  

In our recently released Semiannual Report to Congress, we reported receiving 89,449 fraud allegations from October 2017 to March 2018.

The chart below indicates the number of allegations received by source during the reporting period.

Allegations from Various Sources

As some case examples from our recent semiannual report demonstrate, our investigators can work from allegations from many different sources, including citizens, SSA employees, and other law enforcement agencies.

  • Based on an allegation a private citizen submitted to our Social Security Fraud Hotline, our Birmingham, Alabama office investigated a 62-year-old disability beneficiary. The investigation determined the woman worked as a caretaker at a retirement community, and for over four years, she received disability benefits while working. The woman pleaded guilty to government theft, and a judge sentenced her to probation and ordered her to repay $58,000 to SSA.
  • Acting on a referral from the Chula Vista, California SSA office, our San Diego, California office investigated the 57-year-old son of a Social Security beneficiary. The investigation revealed the man continued to receive and use retirement benefits intended for his father, following his father’s death in 1997. The man pleaded guilty to government theft, and a judge sentenced him to 12 months in prison and ordered him to repay $271,00 to SSA.
  • After receiving information from the U.S. Secret Service, our Little Rock, Arkansas office investigated a 42-year-old disability beneficiary. The investigation found that the beneficiary concealed his employment as a broker for drilling equipment, and for over three years, he received disability benefits while working. The man pleaded guilty to government theft, and a judge sentenced him to probation and ordered him to repay $52,000 to SSA. 

Not All Allegations Lead to OIG Investigations

Some allegations might not lead to investigations for various reasons; for example, an allegation might lack sufficient evidence or relevant information. We might also review an allegation and refer it to another law enforcement agency or SSA for review and action. Check out this previous post for more on the fraud-reporting process.

Our investigations are most successful when the person who submits the allegation provides as much information as possible about the alleged suspects(s) and/or victim(s) involved.

Therefore, it is helpful to know the facts about the alleged fraud, such as:

  • Description of the fraud
  • When the fraud took place
  • How the fraud was committed 

The more information the person provides, the better chance we have of determining whether a crime has been committed and then taking appropriate action. During the October-2017-to-March-2018 semiannual reporting period, based on the allegations we received, our agents efforts’ contributed to more than 400 criminal convictions, about $40 million in Social Security monetary recoveries, and about $126 million in projected future Social Security savings.

If you suspect someone of committing fraud against Social Security, you can submit an allegation to the OIG here.