California man pleads guilty to 30-year social security fraud | California [wafact]

A California man has pleaded guilty to hiding his mother’s death for more than three decades while he collected her social security and military retirement payments, a scheme the US attorney said is believed to be the longest-running and largest fraud of its kind in the district.

Donald Felix Zampach of Poway, about 20 miles north of San Diego, collected over $830,000 of public funds and nearly $30,000 in fraudulently opened credit cards over the course of three decades, US attorney Randy Grossman said last week.

The scam began in 1990 when Zampach’s mother passed away in Japan, his plea agreement states. Just before her passing, Zampach transferred the ownership of her southern California home to himself and filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy, which doesn’t require a repayment plan unlike the more well-known chapter 11 bankruptcy, on his mother’s behalf, federal prosecutors said in a press release.

In the many years after his mother’s death, Zampach kept her bank accounts going, forged her signature and filed falsified tax returns. The one thing he never did: report his mother’s death to social security so they could cease payments.

“This defendant didn’t just passively collect checks mailed to his deceased mother. This was an elaborate fraud spanning more than three decades that required aggressive action and deceit to maintain the ruse,” Grossman said in a statement.

Zampach is out on bail and is set to be sentenced on 20 September. As a part of his plea agreement, he’s required to forfeit his home in Poway and put the money toward his $830,000 restitution bill.

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In 2020, there were nearly 70m social security recipients in the US, according to the administration, who says that they have a fraud incident rate of less than 1%.

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