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Press Release

Woman Sentenced For Stealing Grandmother's Retirement Benefits

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia

Michael J. Moore, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announced that Vanessa Scott-Washington, 45, of Leesburg, Georgia, was sentenced on December 17, 2014 to serve 6 months in prison and pay restitution for making false statements to the Railroad Retirement Board.  The sentence was handed down by Senior U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands in Albany, Georgia.

Ms. Scott-Washington entered a plea of guilty to the charge on August 13, 2014.  As a part of her plea agreement, she admitted that on June 27, 2009, she signed a substitution of payee form with the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) on her grandmother’s retirement benefits agreeing to use the RRB annuity for the benefit of her grandmother and to notify RRB promptly if her grandmother died. 

Her grandmother died in May 2010 but Ms. Scott-Washington deceived the RRB into believing that she was still living in order to continue receiving her benefits.  Even after the Social Security Administration notified the RRB of her grandmother’s death, Ms. Scott-Washington made a number of calls and sent an e-mail claiming that her grandmother was still alive.

Ms. Scott-Washington also admitted to causing a fraudulent letter, drafted on Bank of America letterhead, to be sent to the RRB stating that her grandmother had been seen in the bank that day and was identified by two forms of identification.  The RRB re-commenced the benefits to Ms. Scott-Washington.  In all, the RRB paid a total of $13,679 in benefits to her between June 1, 2010 and February 1, 2011.

“When you try to profit by committing fraud, you should keep looking over your shoulder because you are going to get caught,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Moore.

The case was investigated by agents with the Railroad Retirement Board.  Assistant United States Attorney Jim Crane prosecuted the case for the Government.  Questions concerning this case should be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603.

Updated February 19, 2015