OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A former Social Security Administration employee and her husband have pleaded guilty to a scheme in which payments intended for Social Security recipients were diverted into the couple’s bank accounts, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.
U.S. Attorney David Anderson said 37-year-old Kimberly Dominguez and 39-year-old Erick Dominquez have pleaded guilty to wire fraud in Oakland federal court. The couple face 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and a three-year term of supervised release when they are sentenced on July 13.
According to the defendants’ plea agreements, Kimberly Dominguez was an employee at the SSA’s Oakland Teleservice Center. From September 2015 until October 2019, she used her position to divert Social Security direct deposit payments from recipients’ bank accounts to bank accounts that she controlled.
After the diverted benefits were deposited, Erick Dominquez withdrew money from the accounts, primarily via ATM cash withdrawals. In two instances, Kimberly Dominguez reinstated suspended Social Security benefits before diverting them.
In total, federal prosecutors said, Kimberly Dominguez diverted at least $247,784.70 in Social Security payments from more than 30 recipients.
The Dominguez are among the 400 defendants charged nationwide by federal prosecutors this year in connection with financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors.
On Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr announced the launch of a National Elder Fraud Hotline, which will provide services to seniors who may be victims of financial fraud.
“Americans are fed up with the constant barrage of scams that maliciously target the elderly and other vulnerable citizens,” Barr said in a release. “This year, the Department of Justice prosecuted more than 400 defendants, whose schemes totaled more than a billion dollars.”
The Hotline will be staffed by experienced case managers who can provide personalized support to callers. Case managers will assist callers with reporting the suspected fraud to relevant agencies and by providing resources and referrals to other appropriate services as needed. . The Hotline’s toll free number is 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).