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SSD employee accused of stealing from beneficiaries

A California woman has been indicted on federal theft charges after she allegedly stole several thousands of dollars from Social Security beneficiaries. The woman, who worked at the Social Security Administration's district office in Whittier, California, had been charged with four counts of theft with a total of $6,000 stolen. However, federal investigators believe that she may have taken upwards of $17,000 from more than 15 different Social Security and Social Security Disability beneficiaries.

According to the federal indictment, the SSA employee committed the thefts between October of 2009 and October of 2010 while working as a claims representative at the Whittier SSA office. She allegedly contacted beneficiaries and informed them that they had received an overpayment in their SSD benefits, and then instructed them to refund the money in her name.

In July, a federal grand jury ruled to indict the 32-year-old employee. She was scheduled to be arraigned earlier this week in a federal court in Los Angeles. The outcome of that arraignment is not yet known.

Between 15 and 20 beneficiaries are believed to have complied with the employee's request, with her thefts totaling $17,000. Currently, she is only charged with four charges of theft, and it is unclear whether those charges will be augmented to reflect the total amount stolen. If convicted of the current charges, she faces up to 40 years in prison.

If you or a loved one who is receiving SSD is ever asked to refund some or all of your SSD benefits, make sure to seek and receive verification of that overpayment before sending money back to the SSA. Do not be afraid to ask for a superior or to retain an attorney to assist you with that request.

Source: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, "Social Security employee accused of stealing from beneficiaries," Will Bigham, Aug. 16, 2011

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