Man sentenced for stealing veteran, Social Security benefits

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A Georgia man convicted of participating in a scheme in Florida to steal more than $1.8 million in veteran and Social Security benefits has been sentenced to six years and six months in prison.

Jamare Mason, 27, was sentenced Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale federal court, according to court records. He pleaded guilty in November to conspiring to commit bank and wire fraud. He was also ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution.

From 2012 to 2017, Mason and others attempted to redirect over $1.8 million in benefits from more than 100 disabled veterans and Social Security beneficiaries, officials said. They added that the scheme resulted in the actual loss of nearly $1 million, though the federal government reimbursed the victims for the full amounts of their stolen benefits.

The group obtained the victims’ personal information and used it to fraudulently open bank accounts and prepaid debit cards in the victims’ names, prosecutors said. The conspirators also forged documents that directed the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration to deposit benefit payments into those fraudulent accounts, officials said.

Funds were withdrawn from ATMs and banks throughout South Florida and Georgia, investigators said. Much of the funds were ultimately funneled to the architects of the scheme in Jamaica, officials said.

Besides Mason, four others have been convicted in the conspiracy. Two other men suspected of participating in the fraud haven’t been captured.

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