One of the largest such beneficiary frauds in Social Security history
MEDFORD, Ore. (KTVZ) — U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams said Tuesday a Klamath Falls man is facing federal criminal charges for cashing more than $458,000 worth of Social Security checks issued in the name of his deceased aunt over a span of more than 40 years.
George Doumar, 76, has been charged by complaint with theft of public funds and mail theft.
According to court documents, in February of this year, the Social Security Administration’s Office of Anti-Fraud Programs identified a 114-year-old supercentenarian who appeared to be the second-oldest living person in the U.S. receiving Social Security retirement benefits.
SSA systems indicated that no updates had been made to the person’s benefit record in more than 30 years, leading SSA staff to believe that the person may be deceased. The matter was referred to the SSA Office of the Inspector General.
SSA records indicated that the benefit recipient was born on August 7, 1905 in New York City and had first applied for retirement benefits in August 1970. The person did not receive any payments until September 1977 after she reached her delayed retirement computation age.
SSA records further showed that from 1977 until present day, the benefit recipient received monthly Social Security retirement checks disbursed by the U.S. Treasury and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.
The last known update to the recipient’s SSA benefit record was in July 1989, when the recipient’s address was updated to Frontier Parcel & Fax Service on S. 6th Street in Klamath Falls, a commercial mail receiving agency that accepts mail from the Postal Service on behalf of third parties.
In March of this year, an investigator with SSA-OIG interviewed two of the benefit recipient’s nieces. Both nieces claimed that their aunt died in the 1960s or 1970s and recalled attending her funeral in Brooklyn, New York, where she had reportedly lived her entire life.
According to one niece, their aunt did not have any children and was not married. She recalled that Doumar, her aunt’s nephew, was close with her aunt near the time of her death and was named the sole beneficiary of her life insurance payout.
Investigators soon discovered that Doumar himself was an active Social Security beneficiary and received his checks at the same address on S. 6th Street in Klamath Falls.
State of Oregon Employment Department records showed that Doumar had owned Frontier Parcel & Fax Service since 1990. He owned the property on which the business was located and a residence about 20 miles southwest of Klamath Falls.
According to SSA records, Doumar purchased the property on S. 6th Street seven days prior to the address on his aunt’s benefit record being changed to the same address.
In April of this year, a U.S. Postal Inspection Service Postal Inspector obtained the most recent commercial mail receiving agency report for Frontier Parcel, which showed the names of current postal box owners. The list did not contain anyone with the first or last name of Doumar’s aunt.
On May 1, an Economic Impact Payment of $1,200 was issued to Doumar’s aunt by the U.S. Treasury, as authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. Two weeks later, the check was deposited at a nearby bank after being endorsed with the aunt’s purported signature.
On June 16, SSA-OIG investigators obtained a copy of the aunt’s death certificate from the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, confirming that she had died on March 7, 1971 in Brooklyn.
Investigators determined that Doumar had added his aunt to he and his wife’s shared checking account in 1989. His aunt’s Social Security checks were often bundled in deposits with other checks made payable to Doumar.
Doumar’s account was used to pay for various living expenses including mortgage, car loan, medical and utility payments.
Investigators obtained bank surveillance footage from February that showed a man, who appeared to match Doumar’s physical description, depositing one of his aunt’s retirement checks.
On July 14, investigators from SSA-OIG and USPIS interviewed Doumar at his Klamath Falls residence. When asked about his aunt, Doumar sighed, slumped his head and stated, “That’s a long story … what happened was, well she’s passed and yes, I’ve been collecting her Social Security.”
Doumar will make his first appearance in federal court on August 24. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $25,000 fine, and three years’ supervised release. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will also seek restitution on behalf of SSA.
This case was jointly investigated by SSA-OIG and USPIS. It is being prosecuted by Rachel Sowray, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.