Sep 7, 2017

Alleged SSI Fraud Found During A Terrorism Investigation

     From the Buffalo News:
When FBI agents searched Ari Elias Baum's Facebook page, they were looking for evidence of a terrorist in training.
They already knew about Baum's posting of a photo depicting a couple dressed in military garb and holding weapons, with the caption, "Husband and wife fighting for Islam. The most beautiful photos I have ever seen."
The FBI also knew about the Buffalo man's travels to Yemen and Facebook friendship with a man whose inflammatory posts had come to the attention of terrorism investigators.
Baum was never charged with any terrorism crime but he will stand trial later this month for Social Security fraud, and the government would like to resurrect the terrorism claims as part of its prosecution.
That was until a federal judge said no. ...
He ordered prosecutors to stay away from any mention of the terrorism investigation but allowed them to get into Baum's travels overseas, as well as make general references to his religion. ...
Baum is charged with Social Security fraud and making false statements, and the evidence against him was uncovered as part of the FBI's terrorism investigation. The evidence includes an alleged Facebook conversation between Baum and his stepfather while Baum was traveling overseas.
"How is your money holding out?" asks his stepfather, Dr. R. Bruce Baum.
"Life is cheaper here but I will lose the SSI eventually if I stay here because they will find out that I am out of the country," Baum replied. ...
The FBI's investigation into Baum became public shortly after his arrest on fraud charges three years ago. The four-count indictment against him claims he stole $4,277 in Social Security disability benefits over a four-month period in 2013. ...
     To explain, while benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, that is, benefits based upon FICA contributions, are payable to those who are traveling or living outside the U.S. (with one rare exception), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are not supposed to be paid in a month in which an individual is outside the United States (except in one extremely rare circumstance). These rules are not well understood by SSI recipients. I don't think a prosecution would be common for something like this because there would be no proof that the SSI recipient was intentionally breaking the law. In this case, maybe there is proof of what lawyers call scienter.

3 comments:

John Borsos said...

What is the exception?

Anonymous said...

Exception: There are exceptions for certain blind or disabled children of military parents stationed overseas and students who are temporarily abroad for study purposes. SI 00501.410

Most people know they aren't supposed to get SSI out of the country. It's not like you just have to cross the border. Have to be gone 30 days as in a vacation (on SSI??) or extended visit to relatives/homeland.

Anonymous said...

I would guess that the SSI recipients who don't know that they cannot be paid while outside the US for over 30 days are also those who haven't bothered to read any of the reporting instructions or pay attention to what is explained during the application process.