United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
Seattle Fraud Fighters Recognized With National Award
Prosecutions for Benefit Fraud Lead the Nation for Convictions and Restitution Orders
The Social Security Office of Inspector General anti-fraud team, including the team in Western Washington, is being recognized with a Commissioner’s Citation, the Social Security Administration’s top honor, for its outstanding work investigating and prosecuting government benefit fraud cases. In fiscal year 2012, the Western District of Washington led the nation in the number of convictions for benefit fraud and the total amount of restitution ordered. The award is for results in 2011, when Western Washington also led the nation in convictions and was first in the amount of restitution ordered to reimburse the Social Security Administration for fraudulently-obtained benefits.
“Special Assistant United States Attorney Seth Wilkinson and the outstanding group of investigators and support staff make this office the most productive in the country when it comes to prosecuting benefit fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “It is critical that government benefits be protected as a safety net for those who need help. By fighting fraud, this team restores the public trust in these important programs.”
This year federal prosecutors in the Western District of Washington convicted 27 defendants in benefit fraud cases. More than $2.1 million in restitution was ordered in those cases. Some of the convictions include: U.S. v. Silverstein and Shimonova, where a couple lived in waterfront luxury while collecting housing benefits intended for low income people; U.S. v. Allen, a defendant who stole over $600,000 in benefits from the disabled people whose affairs he was appointed to manage; and U.S v. George, a series of cases where multiple members of the same family used double identities and faked mental disabilities to fraudulently collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits.
Special Assistant United States Attorney Seth Wilkinson is an attorney with the Social Security Office of Inspector General, specially designated to prosecute benefit cases in federal court. Agents with the Social Security Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG) investigate the fraud.