GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A Newaygo woman was sentenced to federal prison for creating fictitious identities and falsified documents to obtain nearly $660,000 in Social Security benefits for non-existent people for roughly 17 years.
Terrie Lynn Christian, 58, will serve 30 months in prison for her role in the fraudulent scheme, U.S. District Judge Hala Jarbou ordered Tuesday, March 22.
The judge noted Christian deserved the sentence because she essentially stole financial benefits that were earmarked to help the children of military members and the poor.
Christian pleaded guilty in October 2021 to defrauding the Social Security Administration of over $550,000 by obtaining benefits for two fictitious children. The fraud began in 2002 and was not discovered until 2019.
She also admitted to perpetrating the same fraud against the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. That scheme netted her over $109,000 between 2003 and 2019.
“This was a brazen long-term fraud that succeeded as long as it did only because Christian knew how to exploit the safeguards built into these two child-welfare programs for years,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge said.
“Her egregious acts resulted in a fraud loss of over $540,000,” added Gail S. Ennis, inspector general for the SSA.
Once released, Christian will be under supervision for a three-year period. She must also pay restitution.
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