Mobile Woman Sentenced for Social Security Benefits Fraud Scheme Targeting Vulnerable Residents of Her Group Homes
MOBILE, AL – The U.S. District Court sentenced a Mobile woman to 6 months in prison, 3 years of supervised release and ordered her to pay the Social Security Administration over $107,000 in restitution for lying to the Social Security Administration (SSA) to get the benefits of vulnerable persons whom she overcharged for room and board in her group boarding homes in Mobile.
According to court documents and testimony at her sentencing hearing today, Meoshi Shonta Nelson, 46, also known as Meoshi Williams, was previously convicted in 2015 of federal felony mail and access device fraud charges for stealing money from the fund established to compensate those with losses from the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill disaster. In that scheme, she submitted false claims for personal income loss and recruited family and friends to do the same, keeping some of the money they received. Nelson later lied to the SSA to obtain approval to receive and manage SSA benefits of persons who lived in three of her group boarding homes in the Mobile area. Specifically, as an applicant to the SSA’s Representative Payee Program, Nelson was required but failed to disclose that she was a convicted felon as of June 23, 2015, when she pleaded guilty to the mail and access device fraud charges described above.
Nelson repeatedly lied to the SSA in her representative payee applications and her SSA fund expenditures forms that she was not a convicted felon. When the SSA learned of her convictions in 2017, it barred her from serving as anyone’s representative payee and reassigned her beneficiaries.
Not to be deterred, Nelson circumvented the debarment by enlisting her family and friends to apply to serve as representative payees for residents of her group homes—in name only—who then turned over the money to her. Nelson took 75% off the top of from each of her SSA beneficiaries for room and board for their room, which averaged over $500.00 per month, from approximately six (6) residents of each home. The charge exceeded the fair market value of rent at the locations by two-to-four times. She also received federal food stamps for some of the residents. She provided services such as transportation to the doctor. The court ordered her to pay $107,000 to the SSA as restitution.
“Driven by greed, this woman preyed on vulnerable people, many of whom were elderly and could not manage their own finances,” said U.S. Attorney Sean P. Costello. “Hopefully, her time in prison will deter her from further committing further crimes against other members of our community, especially the elderly and vulnerable,” he added.
“Nelson’s fraudulent scheme exploited a vulnerable population who had trusted her and depended on her for care,” said Gail Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. “I thank our law enforcement partners for working with us and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this case and holding Nelson accountable.”
The Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, Atlanta Field Division investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Lankford prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.