Social Security Administration Employee Charged In Scheme To Steal Disability Benefits Payments
CAMDEN, N.J. – An Atlantic County, New Jersey, man employed with the Social Security Administration (SSA) was arrested today for unlawfully accessing the Social Security accounts of individuals and falsifying their records in order to steal government funds for his own use, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Nicholas Pao, 37, of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, was charged by criminal complaint with one count of theft of government funds and five counts of aggravated identity theft. He is scheduled to appear today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio in Camden federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Pao was a 10-year employee of the SSA who worked as a claims technical expert in the Egg Harbor Township office, responsible for determining eligibility and payment amounts, processing difficult cases, assisting in case reviews, and making special payment approvals. From December 2014 to July 2018, Pao allegedly used his SSA credentials to access the confidential records of several individuals without their knowledge or authority. Pao would alter their records and make fraudulent changes that caused the SSA to issue Social Security benefits to these individuals. He then allegedly intercepted these benefits, which were issued by way of a Direct Express account and credit card and used the money without the knowledge or consent of the individuals. Pao has allegedly stolen $99,967 in Social Security funds.
The count of theft of government funds is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison. The counts of aggravated identity theft are each punishable by a statutory mandatory prison sentence of two years that must be served consecutively to any term of imprisonment imposed for the violation of theft of government funds. All the counts are also punishable by a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense.
Anyone who believes they might have been the victim of this scheme is asked to call the SSA Office of the Inspector General at (888) 487-9917.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the SSA, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of John F. Grasso, with the investigation leading to today’s charges.
The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Meriah Russell of the Criminal Division, Trenton.
The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.