What comes to mind when you hear the words Social Security fraud?
Although our law enforcement authority begins with uncovering fraud in Social Security’s benefit programs, our fraud investigations sometimes reveal other types of crimes—some that are truly shocking, and others that might even make you laugh.
A few years ago, a police detective in Louisa County, Virginia was investigating a man’s disappearance. This detective contacted a special agent in our Washington, D.C. office, to find leads within the man’s Social Security records, because he was receiving benefits.
Our agent found that the man’s live-in girlfriend, Ulisa Chavers, also his representative payee, had been receiving his Social Security checks every month. But when she was questioned on multiple occasions about her boyfriend, Chavers gave different answers about his whereabouts.
Our special agent continued investigating this case with the Virginia authorities. After obtaining a search warrant for Ulisa Chavers’ property, they discovered a body at the bottom of a well. Working with a forensic anthropologist, they identified the body as the missing man. Ulisa Chavers was not just stealing government money—she was a murderer.
What’s more, our agent noticed that Ulisa Chavers had also received Social Security benefits for her first husband, two decades before. We eventually uncovered evidence that Chavers had also murdered that man, Clint Chavers.
Our work helped send Ulisa Chavers to prison and bring closure to the families of these two men. Watch our YouTube video to learn more about this extraordinary case.
The Chavers case, unfortunately, isn't unique. In December 2012, The Times-Picayune of Louisiana reported on the story of woman who allegedly helped stuff the body of her roommate's dead father into an ice chest and stole almost $34,000 of his Social Security checks.
Sometimes, our investigations take a more amusing turn. In the case of Thomas Prusik-Parkin, we found that he not only stole his deceased mother’s Social Security benefits, but he also posed as his mother, complete with flowered dress and hat, to keep his fraud scheme going for years. Our investigation led to his conviction on charges of grand larceny and mortgage fraud.
And then there’s the Cooperative Disability Investigations case of the man who used a cane to support himself when he attended a medical examination as part of his disability benefit application. Sounds like he was really disabled, right? The only problem was, he bought the cane at a pharmacy on his way to the appointment—and he returned it for a cash refund on his way home.
If you regularly check the OIG In the News page, you never know when you’ll find a shocking—or silly—“believe-it-or-not” investigation.