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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Missouri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

St. Louis Man Sentenced on Social Security Fraud Charges

St. Louis, MO – Lawrence Jerel Higgins, 29, St. Louis, MO, was sentenced to 54 months in prison on multiple charges of using social security numbers of others to conceal his criminal history while obtaining employment with information technology companies.

According to court documents, Higgins had been convicted of fraud prior to January 16, 2016. In order to conceal his criminal history from prospective employers, Higgins used fictitious social security numbers as well as the social security number and date of birth of his brother to obtain employment with two information technology (IT) companies.

 

As early as January 16, 2016, Higgins used his brother’s social security number and date of birth to obtain employment with an IT company. Since he and his brother have similar names, Higgins use of his brother’s identifying information concealed Higgins’ criminal history in the company’s routine background check. Higgins also used a social security card with his brother’s number to fulfill the federal government’s employment verification requirements. During his employment, the company had problems using the identifying information Higgins provided. Higgins responded to their queries by falsely claiming that he made a mistake when he wrote the number ending in 8776, and his number ended in 8777. When a problem arose with the new number, Higgins made another false statement saying that his number ended in 8775 rather than 8776 or 8777. Higgins failed to return to work after providing the third social security number.

 

After abandoning the first employment, Higgins applied with another IT company using the number ending in 8775. After they offered him employment, Higgins claimed that he had mistakenly used the wrong number on his application. Since the background checks was based upon the false information, the second employer was unaware of Higgins’ criminal history.

 

Lawrence Jerel Higgins pled guilty in April to four counts of social security fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft. He appeared today for sentencing United States District Judge Catherine D. Perry.

 

This case was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Berry handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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Topic(s): 
StopFraud
Updated August 16, 2017