STUMP » Articles » Tales of Pension Fraud: Hidden Deaths and Elder Abuse » 29 July 2016, 09:58

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Tales of Pension Fraud: Hidden Deaths and Elder Abuse  


29 July 2016, 09:58

Something fun for Friday! (was supposed to be last Friday, but I had a happier post that pre-empted this one.)


Not all pension fraud tales will be of faked disabilities and spiking those final salaries or pension credit.

Sometimes it’s hiding the body.

Woman Finds Body in Refrigerator That She Bought at Yard Sale

A North Carolina woman is shocked after she found a neighbor’s body inside a refrigerator.

The woman, who told WRAL she wanted to be anonymous, said she brought the fridge in the yard sale in May. The seller allegedly told her that it held some items for a Sunday school project. Someone would be coming by later to pick it up.

She believes the body belonged to a neighbor, an elderly woman she hasn’t seen since the fall.

Investigators haven’t ruled it a murder, according to WRAL. Medical examiners found no signs of foul play. The death was reportedly natural.

The woman suspects desperation drove the fridge seller—the neighbor’s daughter.

“I think maybe the daughter was dependent on the mother’s check and didn’t know what else to do,” she said.

That was in June, so we don’t have confirmation of pension fraud here. Yet.

But I wouldn’t be surprised, as Japan has had problems with this.


One of the more amusing episodes was when it was found that the “World’s Oldest Man” had been dead for 30 years.

[July 2010] Tokyo, Japan (CNN) — Police have found the mummified body of a man believed to have been Tokyo’s oldest man, who may have in fact died some 30 years ago, officials at the city’s Adachi Ward said.

Sogen Kato, who was born on July 22, 1899, would have been 111 years old if he were alive today.

Police are still investigating the case, but officials told CNN they found newspapers in his room dating back three decades, and think he might have been dead for at least that long.

According to a local newspaper, Kato’s granddaughter told police he had locked himself in his room some 30 years ago, saying he would become a living Buddha.
His wife, a former teacher, died six years ago at the age of 101. Kato had been receiving his late wife’s pension payments.

You mean his account had been receiving the payments. Dead men receive no money.

Oh wait, perhaps his relatives had been taking the money after all:

Following the discovery of Kato’s body, two of his relatives were arrested in August 2010, and subsequently charged with fraud.10 Prosecutors alleged that Michiko Kato, 81, Kato’s daughter, and Tokimi Kato, 53, his granddaughter, fraudulently received about ¥9,500,000 ($117,939; £72,030) of pension money.46 In addition, after Kato’s wife died in 2004 at the age of 101, ¥9,450,000 ($117,318; £71,651) from a survivor’s mutual pension was deposited into Kato’s bank account between October 2004 and June 2010. Approximately ¥6,050,000 ($75,108; £45,872) was withdrawn before his body was discovered. Kato was likely paid a senior welfare benefit from the time he turned 70, which the family may also have used to their advantage.5 Investigators said that the pair defrauded the Japan Mutual Aid Association of Public School Teachers, who transferred the money into Kato’s account.7

In November 2010, the Tokyo District Court sentenced Tokimi Kato to a 2½ year sentence for fraud, suspended for four years. Judge Hajime Shimada said, “The defendant committed a malicious crime with the selfish motive of securing revenue for her family. However, she has paid back the pension benefits and expressed remorse for the crime.”11

There were follow up investigations after this embarrassment, as Kato wasn’t the only “oldest” Japanese person found to have been dead for years.

The nationwide hunt culminated this month with the Justice Ministry reporting more than 230,000 “missing” centenarians – a revelation that sent the country, which traditionally venerates its elderly, into collective shock.

‘Deeper problems’

There are several reasons being touted to explain the staggering figure.

The resident registry, which is based on census data and information on pensions and other welfare benefits, gives a far more accurate picture.

Those figures, released last week by the Health Ministry, recorded 44,449 living citizens aged 100 or more.

It was unable to account for about 400 people – a troubling figure for a society that prides itself on its commitment to its most senior citizens.
But perhaps the most surprising element of this story is some families deliberately hiding the deaths of elderly relatives in order to claim their pensions.

Japan’s health minister has suggested face-to-face meetings with all citizens over 110 years old to verify their vitality.

That might be a good idea.

And Social Security and pension systems might think about doing the same thing. But I’d check well before age 110.


Then the stories are sometimes odder:

A Japanese man stored his mother’s remains in a backpack, police discovered. And mama had company.
In the latest case, police said the dead woman’s 64-year-old son admitted to authorities that his mother died nine years ago. He said he couldn’t afford to bury her, so he placed her in a backpack.
“I laid out her body for awhile, washed it in a bath, then broke up the bones and put them into a backpack,” the man said, according to the AFP.

But police are suspicious and are investigating the son for fraud because his mother continued to receive pension payments long after her death.

that story was from 2010.

In this age of direct deposit … it’s very easy for someone else to take control of the account remotely, if they never have to show proof that the account owner is still alive.

Here are three more stories about people collecting dead people’s pension or Social Security payments:

Again, the fix is to require at least some in person interactions to prove someone is still alive… but….


…in-person meetings don’t always work if someone is outright pretending to be someone else.

You may remember this famous case from 2009:

A Brooklyn man accused of dressing as his dead mother to collect $1 million in benefits and loans kept a casket in his living room, investigators said.

City marshals made the discovery when they showed up to evict Thomas Prusik Parkin and his brother from a Park Slope brownstone at the center of the alleged scam.

It’s unclear why Parkin had the coffin – another bizarre detail in a case so twisted it shocked probers from the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.

Parkin, 49, allegedly began posing as his mother, Irene Prusik, after she died in 2003.

He filed a blizzard of bogus documents with government agencies, collecting $62,000 in Social Security payments and $65,000 in state rent subsidies, officials said.

Rimolo, 47, is accused of posing as Irene Prusik’s nephew and escorting Parkin – who walked with a cane and wore a wig, makeup, nail polish and long, red dresses

Bureaucrats, banks, lawyers, mortgage brokers and title company representatives were all fooled by the cross-dressing con, prosecutors said.

Just two months ago, Parkin allegedly posed as his mother to get a $938,250 mortgage on a $2.2 million Park Slope brownstone – despite the fact it was owned by someone else who bought it in foreclosure in 2003.

Parkin and his family lived in the home for decades and stayed after it was sold.

Until the marshals showed up in March, he managed to avoid eviction and paying rent with a flurry of legal actions in which he posed as his mother and even invented a son and a nephew, officials said.

That story got quite a lot of attention, because Parkin really committed to his role:

Only if he had direct deposit on his dead mom’s account. And an ATM card.

There was a happy ending: Parkin was sentenced to 41 years in prison for his fraud:


Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Reduce Improper Payments and Increase Overpayment Recoveries
The Office of Investigations

He’s not going to the Bates Motel.

A “Psycho” scammer who dressed up as his dead mom so he could collect her Social Security benefits will instead be checking into state prison for 13 2/3 to 41 years after being sentenced yesterday for the bizarre Norman Bates-like stunt.

Thomas Prusik-Parkin, 52 was convicted this month of grand larceny and mortgage fraud for posing as Irene Prusik for several years in order to pocket more than $44,000 of the dead woman’s benefits.

“It’s amazing — it’s amazing!” Justice Vincent Del Giudice said as he sentenced the frail, bearded man. “It borders on ludicrous that you expected to get away with this.”

Irene Prusik-Parkin’s actress mom, Irene, was 73 when she died in 2003. Within days of Prusik’s death, authorities charged, her son changed her Social Security numbers and doctored other documents.

Who knew government press releases could be so saucy?


Hiding a body or faking identity are both frauds to get pension or benefit money not owed, and are bad enough.

But the next story is even worse: abusing an elderly person to get their money.

Man Held 81-Year-Old Veteran Hostage For 4 Years, Stole His Pension Checks: Cops:

A Korean War veteran was held hostage for more than four years by a man who stole his Social Security and pension checks, police said.

Perry Cogliano, 43, was being held in lieu of $15,000 cash bail on charges of grand larceny, unlawful imprisonment, criminal possession of a weapon, endangering an incompetent person, menacing and unlawful possession of marijuana.

The victim, 81-year-old David McClellan, lived in a squalid motel room with dried blood and mildew on the mattress and belongings strewn around the cramped lodgings, the Hudson Valley News Network reported.

The veteran had a lucrative pension package and suffered from advanced dementia, police said.

Cogliano lived next door at the Academy Motel in Highlands and was arrested Tuesday evening following a two-week investigation by local police, who received cell phone video from a concerned neighbor showing the elderly man being shouted at and abused by Cogliano, cops said.

“The guy who was arrested who lived next door, he was giving him just one bowl of cereal a day, he would stick him back in the room with a stick, wasn’t bathing him, the old guy would just be walking around here naked, just terrible,” a neighbor told WABC-TV.

Cogliano escorted the U.S. Marines veteran to his bank and force the elderly man to withdraw large sums of money, police said. Authorities declined to say how much money Cogliano allegedly took from the mentally disabled man.

I expect to see more elder abuse stories as time goes on, because of two factors: there will be lots more old people, because the Boomers will live longer than their parents did and because there’s so many more of Boomers; and Boomers have weaker family ties than prior generations, with fewer children/grandchildren, etc. Most elder abuse will be from family members, but so many elders will have no family, and strangers will also abuse.


I should be returning to regular pension-related posting next week.

In the meantime, thanks to these linkers:

Enjoy the weekend!

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