A 66-year-old woman from Yonkers, New York has been accused of running a scam the past 20 years that has cheated the federal government out of more than $180,000 in disability and housing benefits.
On October 8, Thelma Smith was charged with two felony counts of grand larceny in connection with the scheme, according to the District Attorney’s Office of Westchester County, New York.
According to prosecutors, from 1988 until 2008, Smith, also known as Thelma Fuentes, maintained two different Social Security numbers under separate names.
The prosecutors said that Smith collected benefits from disability under one name, while working several jobs from 1995 until 2008 under her second name.
Authorities said that even though her employment made her ineligible for benefits, she collected a total of $113,798 from the Social Security Administration. She also received more than $70,000 in Section 8 housing benefits from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, though she was ineligible.
Smith’s fraud was discovered when she attempted to collect disability benefits under her second name. She faces a possible punishment of five to 15 years in state prison.