News and Press Releases

kC man pleads guilty to identity theft,
$300,000 social security fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 11, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Kansas City, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to stealing the identity of his deceased brother as part of a scheme to commit Social Security fraud.

Joe Calvin Seward, 66, of Kansas City, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith to aggravated identity theft and mail fraud. The total fraud loss incurred by the United States as a result of Seward’s scheme is $300,419.

Seward admitted that he used the identity of Lee Seward, his dead brother, to conceal his work activity and income, which allowed him to receive Social Security disability payments in his own name. Seward also admitted that he fraudulently obtained Social Security payments under his deceased brother’s stolen identity.

Seward began receiving disability payments in March 1980 due to a lower left leg amputation that left him unable to work. In November 1990, Seward applied for the assignment of a Social Security number in the name of his deceased brother. Seward used the fraudulent Social Security number to obtain employment as a school bus driver and continued to receive disability payments in his own name.

In July 2001, Seward applied for Social Security benefits under his brother’s stolen identity. In January 2002, Seward began receiving disability payments under his brother’s identity. From October 2005 through December 2009, Seward received SSI payments under his brother’s identity.

In addition to Seward’s disability payments, his wife also received auxiliary payments that were contingent on his eligibility to receive disability payments.

The total fraud loss incurred by the Social Security Administration as a result of those fraudulent payments is $299,919.

As a result of Seward’s Social Security fraud, he also received and cashed two Recovery Act payments of $250 each, one in his name and one in the name of his deceased brother, neither of which he was entitled to receive. This loss is separate and in addition to the fraud loss incurred by the Social Security Administration.

Under federal statutes, Seward is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 22 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Alford. It was investigated by the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General.

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