A 58-year-old Dunnellon man has been charged with fraudulently accepting his dead wife’s Social Security benefits.
United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announced the filing of federal charges in Tampa against Bruce Griffin and 11 others – including Rosemary Freeman of Summerfield – charged in Operation Dead Ringer. The group of 12 was charged in 11 separate cases with cumulatively stealing more than $700,000 in Social Security benefits paid to beneficiaries who were deceased.
Griffin was charged with fraudulently collecting his dead wife’s Social Security benefits from June 2013 through July 2019 for a total of about $50,963. Freeman was charged with fraudulently collecting her deceased boyfriend’s Social Security benefits from January 2013 through April 2019 for a total of $83,488. If convicted, they each could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
“As these charges demonstrate, stealing from SSA on behalf of a deceased beneficiary is a federal crime. We work closely with SSA and other government agencies to identify Social Security fraud and stop improper payments,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General of Social Security.
Operation Dead Ringer, initiated in the Middle District of Florida, aggressively targets those who steal Social Security benefits inadvertently paid to deceased beneficiaries.
The cases are being investigated by the Social Security Administration – Office of the Inspector General, with assistance from other federal and local law enforcement agencies, including the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation – Office of the Inspector General. Special Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Huyler is coordinating the operation. She, along with Assistant United States Attorneys Yolande Viacava and Tyrie Boyer, will be prosecuting the cases.