Identity thieves used the social security numbers of hundreds of deceased and elderly individuals to earn millions of dollars in wages.
Questionable earnings to the tune of nearly $200 million over a five-year period were discovered by the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) inspector general, recently.
It now appears those wages were earned using the social security numbers of elderly and deceased individuals.
An official audit released Tuesday reports, “Although SSA had controls in place to prevent and detect SSN misuse, we found individuals were using elderly individuals’ identities for work purposes. Our review of a sample of 126 elderly individuals showed that 37 of their identities had been used to earn about $4.6 million during Tax Years (TY) 2009 to 2014.”
Furthermore, it was determined that over 70 percent of wages earned with false SSNs originated in the entertainment industry. Many of the claimed earnings were royalty payments for dead actors and producers.
Between 2009 and 2014, the inspector general estimates that stolen SSNs belonging to 1,074 persons over the age of 85 resulted in $145 million in earnings and the stolen SSNs belonging to 7,949 deceased individuals resulted in roughly $57 million in earnings.
“The elderly are among the most vulnerable in our society and prime targets for identity thieves. “Therefore, it is important to ensure that precautions are taken to properly safeguard their personally identifiable information and protect them against potential Social Security number misuse.”
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