KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Syrian national was sentenced in federal court today for Social Security fraud.
Mohamad Yasser Baiazid, 71, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Syria who resided in Kansas City, Mo., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs to one year and one day in federal prison without parole. Baiazid must pay $34,429 in restitution.
On July 31, 2013, Baiazid pleaded guilty to theft of government money by receiving Social Security benefits that he was not entitled to receive. Baiazid admitted that he resided outside of the United States for several years while receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Baiazid admitted that his actions caused the government to incur a fraud loss of $34,179, for which he must pay restitution. Baiazid also received a one-time $250 payment to which he was not entitled under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, for which he also must pay restitution.
Baiazid applied for SSI benefits on Nov. 29, 2007. Beneficiaries of SSI may not reside outside of the country for a full calendar month or for 30 consecutive days or more. Beneficiaries who reside outside of the United States for more than a full calendar month or for 30 consecutive days or more are no longer eligible to receive SSI benefits. Accordingly, SSI beneficiaries have a duty to notify the Social Security Administration if they leave the United States and are gone for a full calendar month or for 30 consecutive days or more.
Baiazid lived outside the United States on three separate occasions. On Jan. 25, 2008, he traveled to Syria and did not return to the United States until Oct. 21, 2009 – approximately one year and 10 months later. On Jan. 21, 2012, Baiazid traveled to Syria and remained outside the United States until Feb. 24, 2010 – more than one month. Baiazid again left the United States headed for Syria on May 23, 2010, and resided outside of the United States until May 2, 2013 – nearly three years.
Upon his return to the United States in 2013, Baiazid initially had a return ticket to Beirut, Lebanon, leaving Kansas City International Airport on July 7, 2013. After learning that he was a target of a criminal investigation, he amended his flight plans and attempted to leave the United States on May 21, 2013.
When Baiazid was interviewed by an employee of the Social Security Administration in January 2010, he falsely claimed to be living in Kansas City since 2007. In a March 2010 interview, Baiazid again falsely claimed he had not been outside the United States for a calendar month or 30 consecutive days since November 2007. Baiazid was interviewed again in May 2013 and falsely claimed that he had not traveled outside the United States (except for a one-week visit to France).This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Alford. It was investigated by the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations.