Social Security Benefit Fraud Ring Participant from Florida Sentenced to Prison
Apr 15, 2023
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of California:
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Jenice Nicholas, 35, of Pompano Beach, Florida, was sentenced today to one year and one day in prison for her participation in a conspiracy to steal from the Social Security Administration (SSA), U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, between February 2018 and June 2021, Nicholas participated in a conspiracy that sought to steal Social Security benefits intended for beneficiaries. Her co‑conspirators contacted SSA customer service representatives posing as Social Security beneficiaries by using personally identifiable information. They would convince the customer service representative to change the direct deposit account number associated with the true beneficiary’s account to that associated with drop accounts, i.e., expendable accounts used to funnel or transfer proceeds of a crime. For many of the direct deposit account changes that her co-conspirators caused, the SSA deposited monthly payments into the drop accounts, thus depriving the actual beneficiaries of their monthly benefits.
Debit cards connected to these drop accounts were then mailed to Nicholas and other co‑conspirators. On several occasions, Nicholas 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 exceeded $234,000. As part of her sentence, Nicholas was also ordered to pay $234,378 in restitution to the SSA.
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 M. Sharma prosecuted the case.
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