Man Who Cashed Dead Mother’s Social Security Checks for 37 Years Jailed

Social Security Card A social security card on a bed of money

Walter Terrell, 76, will serve six months in jail for fraudulently collecting his dead mother’s social security checks.

Terrell has been convicted of stealing more than $280,000 from the U.S. government over nearly four decades of collecting his deceased parent’s social security benefits. Authorities attempted to contact Terrell’s mother when her medicare benefits went unused, but Terrell allegedly claimed she was on vacation, or had someone else impersonate her.

“Every single time you write the false name on the check, you sign somebody’s name that is not yours, that is a crime,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider. “Eventually this was direct deposited into his account. So the defendant had to lie to get the direct deposit into his account.”

Terrell’s neighbor, however, disagrees — and suggested there might be more to the story than immediately apparent. “He cut it off like four or five times,” Reginald Carpenter asserted. “But they just kept pursuing and giving it to him.” He has also claimed that the money was spent on Terrell’s own medical needs — including a recent back surgery.

Schneider’s conclusion is less charitable. “It was 37 years of fraud. Thirty-seven years of stealing the government’s money,” he said, and claimed that there is much more welfare fraud than is being reported. “And if you’re not entitled to those benefits, what you should expect is prison time.”


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