Tampa, FL LawFuel.com – February 2, 2016 – Several cases of Social Security disability fraud have been reported in Florida in December and January.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, four Miami-Dade residents were charged with Social Security, immigration and health care fraud on January 8. The scheme involved submitting false statements to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Psychiatrist Fernando Mendez Villamil and three other defendants offered to help applicants file claims for Social Security disability benefits in exchange for money. Villamil allegedly provided them with fraudulent diagnoses of mental conditions.
“The Social Security Disability Insurance program has lost billions due to individuals who cheat the system,” said David W. Magann, a prominent attorney in Tampa, Florida, whose firm specializes in Social Security disability law. “Cracking down on rampant waste and abuse is necessary in order to preserve a valuable resource for those who are legally allowed to obtain such benefits.”
In a separate case of fraud, a Greenwood, Florida, man was sentenced to six months in jail for obtaining $63,284 in Supplemental Security Income benefits by falsely claiming he had an organic brain disorder. He was also ordered to pay $56,287 to the SSA and $6,997 to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration in restitution.
Lynwood Williams, 53, applied for benefits in October 2006. He continued receiving them until 2014 when investigators found online videos that revealed Williams was a comedian with no signs of mental disabilities or speech impairments.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Williams had deliberately acted like he was mentally disabled and pretended to have difficulty speaking during interviews with SSA officials. One interview involved a friend of Williams who was designated as his representative payee. The friend falsely told SSA officials that Williams was unable to take care of his daily needs due to his severe disabilities and had to be supervised like a child.
“The SSA must balance the cost of fraud investigation with the return. Although tougher enforcement has been promised, there is still a long way to go before benefits abuse is put to an end completely,” said Magann.