News 4 Investigates: Social Security fraud on the rise -

News 4 Investigates: Social Security fraud on the rise

( -- Across the country, Social Security fraud is rising and people are even feigning disabilities to earn free government benefits.

News 4 tracked down a few of the recent examples in our area.  Recently Tara Star Johndrow, of Belleville, pleaded guilty to stealing more than $14,000 in Social Security Insurance benefits.  She was working at the same time she was collecting the benefits.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Social Security Administration investigates Social Security fraud.  News 4 spoke with Troy Turk, the Special Agent in Charge of the office in Kansas City. Turk oversees the investigations in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.  Over the past year, Turk’s office has received more than 3,200 tips about Social Security fraud in that four-state region.

But only a small portion result in prosecution: only around nine out of that 3,200.

“We only have 18 special agents to cover those four states” said Turk.  And he told News 4 that is not enough.

Johnson is not alone in her recent sentencing.  Amber Dawn Adams, of Fayetteville, also recently pleaded guilty to collecting more than $9,000 in Social Security survivor benefits for a child that was not living with her at the time. Both Johnson and Adams received probation.

If you know of someone you believe is receiving Social Security benefits fraudulently, the OIG wants to hear from you.

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