Harlingen man admits to bilking feds out of $75K

Only have a minute? Listen instead

A former claims specialist with the Social Security Administration has admitted to making fake profiles for non-existent children in order to steal federal funds.

Harlingen resident Lee Marvin Nichols, 38, pleaded guilty in Brownsville federal court on Tuesday to theft of government property, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas announced in a news release.

In addition to creating the fake profiles, Nichols also linked to profiles of a man who had recently died and for a woman with disabilities who lived in Mexico in an attempt to create a survivor benefits application, according to the release.

“Nichols ensured that the debit cards for the children’s benefits were sent to the address of someone with whom he was associated,” the release stated. “He would then use the debit cards to make regular withdrawals at ATMs.”

The news release said he tried to disguise himself while withdrawing money by pulling a hat down over his face, using sunglasses or balaclavas and other clothing to hide his appearance.

He also received a $1,4000 IRS stimulus payment for one of the fictitious children.

In all, Nichols stole more than $75,000, according to the release, which said that he will pay the Social Security Administration $82,516 in restitution and another $2,800 in restitution to the IRS.

He is scheduled for sentencing in late December and faces up to 10 years in federal prison.