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Press Release

Guilty Plea in Sacramento-based Scheme to Defraud the Social Security Administration

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Darron Dimitri Ross, 34, of Charlotte, North Carolina, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to defraud and commit offenses against the United States, aggravated identity theft, and wire fraud, United States Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to court documents, between November 2015 and October 2018, Ross and co-defendants Eric Lemoyne Willis and Joshua Bilal George conspired to defraud the Social Security Administration (SSA). Willis worked as an SSA Operation Supervisor in Sacramento and Lodi and used his authority as an SSA employee to access the confidential records of numerous beneficiaries. These records contained personally identifiable information (PII), including names, addresses, social security numbers, birth dates, account numbers, family information, and benefit payment amounts. Willis gave this PII to Ross and George who contacted SSA field offices across the country and posed as the beneficiaries. Once Ross or George succeeded in convincing an SSA representative that he was the beneficiary, he then requested that the beneficiary’s direct deposit account be changed to one of the 44 accounts that Ross had opened. SSA then deposited benefit payments into the fraudulent accounts, and the conspirators would divide the proceeds amongst themselves.

At least 160 beneficiaries nationwide were targeted by these crimes, and the total fraud loss suffered by SSA has exceeded $500,000. Willis and Ross spent the proceeds of their crimes on, among other things, trips to Las Vegas and luxury items, including Rolex watches.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Social Security Administration – Office of the Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Artuz is prosecuting the case.

On June 17, 2019, Willis pleaded guilty to similar charges in this case. The charges against George are pending. They are only allegations; he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Ross is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb for a status conference regarding sentencing on April 20. Ross faces a maximum statutory penalty of 27 years in prison and a $750,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Updated February 14, 2020

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 2:18-cr-266-WBS