Social Security Employee Admits Creating Fake Children’s Profiles to Steal Government Money
Oct 4, 2023
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Texas
BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A 38-year-old Harlingen resident and former claims specialist with the Social Security Administration (SSA) has pleaded guilty to theft of government property, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Lee Marvin Nichols admitted to creating fictitious profiles for two children that did not exist. He linked the profiles to a recently deceased man and disabled woman living in Mexico in an attempt to create a survivor benefits application.
Nichols ensured that the debit cards for the children’s benefits were sent to the address of someone with whom he was associated. He would then use the debit cards to make regular withdrawals at ATMs. When making those withdrawals, he attempted to disguise himself by using hats pulled down over his face, sunglasses, balaclavas and other clothing to conceal his appearance.
In addition, the IRS issued economic stimulus payments of $1,400 to each fictitious child.
As part of his plea, Nichols took responsibility for over $75,000 in loss to the federal government. He also agreed to pay $82,516 in restitution to the SSA and $2,800 in restitution to the IRS.
U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera will impose sentencing Dec. 27. At that time, Nichols faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 maximum fine.
The SSA-Office of Inspection General, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and IRS Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brad Gray, Ben Sandel, Andrew Swartz and Jose Esquivel are prosecuting the case.
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