Long-Dead Citizens Collecting Social Security Checks and Pensions


Amy Logan, Assistant Editor of Fraud Magazine

Beware – zombies and mummies are collecting social security checks and pensions. Earlier this fall, more than 230,000 Japanese centenarians were reported missing after Japan’s Justice Ministry ordered a nationwide survey of households, acting on a hunch preceded by gruesome discoveries of long-dead citizens.

One such discovery, in late July, was that of the mummified remains of Tokyo’s presumed oldest man, 111-year-old Sogen Kato. His corpse was discovered in his family’s home, where it had been resting for about 30 years, according to the Sept. 20 BBC news article, “The Mystery of Japan’s Missing Centenarians.” Kato’s 81-year-old daughter is believed to have fraudulently collected more than 9 million yen ($106,000) in pension payments for those 30 years, police told BBC.

A similar story surfaced in Florida a little more than a year before Kato’s remains were found. On May 7, 2009, Penelope Jordan, 61, was formally charged in a federal court with Social Security fraud and theft of U.S. funds. Jordan had kept her deceased mother, Timmie Jordan, barricaded in a back bedroom of her home for six years so she could continue to collect nearly $40,000 annually from Social Security and her mother’s U.S. military pension. The pension was paid to Timmie after the death of Penelope’s father, Col. Ashford Travis “A.T.” Jordan – a World War II veteran.

In death fraud cases like these, where the deaths of defrauded decedents are concealed, Cheryl B. Hyder, CFE, MT, CPA, CVA, CFF, and Christine L. Warner, warn that detection and prevention is difficult at best. But for most other cases of death fraud, where the deaths are reported somewhere on record, it is possible to catch the fraudster in the ghoulish act.

Learn more by reading Hyder and Warner’s “Death Fraud: This Identity Theft Is Alive and Kicking,” published in the September/October 2010 edition of Fraud Magazine.