The Texas man allegedly collected more than $231,000 from cheques to Willie Mae Shaughnesy over 26 years
Willie Mae Shaughnesy may have died in 1984, but her Social Security cheques kept coming in the mail and her son continued cashing them. In total, the Social Security Administration paid more than $231,000 into Mae's account and an 80-year-old man believed to be her son withdrew the money for about 26 years.
The Department of Justice announced Budd "has been charged with one count of theft of government property in connection with Social Security benefits paid on behalf of a woman believed to be his mother."
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The announcement made last week by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson said they began to investigate the whereabouts of Shaughnesy in 2010 as she would have been 104 years old. They discovered a death certificate from 1984 and that the account was jointly held between Shaughnesy and Budd.
If this sounds familiar, it's because a similar thing happened a short time ago in New York. But the man in Brooklyn had do to a lot more work to cover up his mother being dead. Thomas Parkin, 51, wore lipstick, breathed through an oxygen tank and dressed in a blonde wig and women's clothing to convince investigators he was his late mother. He and a partner cashed cheques every month for six years totaling about $44,000. He was convicted in May of fraud, grand larceny, forgery and perjury and sentenced to at least 13 years in prison.
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A commenter wonders on a social security blog how it can happen and how it can take so long to figure out someone has passed away, but SSA incorrectly paying people is a much bigger problem in the U.S. than people think. CNN reports the Social Security inspector general estimates the agency has paid more than $40 million to deceased people.