Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver / March 14, 2023
(Castle Pines, Colo.) A 36-year-old Castle Pines man pleaded guilty on March 8 to wire fraud, social security fraud, and money laundering through his position as a claims specialist with the Social Security Administration.
According to the plea agreement, Justin Skiff used his position from around August 2019 through September 2021 to create Social Security numbers for 10 fake children. He then connected the fictitious children to real deceased individuals whose children would be entitled to benefits and appointed a representative payee for each of the children.
The benefits for all 10 children were deposited into a Comerica Bank account which Skiff could access with debit cards. Skiff allegedly withdrew $324,201.44 in child benefits and economic stimulus payments during the two-year stint. He also accessed the funds through point-of-sale purchases, including Western Union money orders.
Federal agents seized an approximately $24,335 engagement ring from Skiff’s Castle Pines residence in April 2022. Nothing else was reportedly seized.
The plea agreement prevents Skiff from appealing his sentence. Federal charges have 43 offense levels, and the plea agreement lowered offense levels by two or three levels to provide for lesser sentencing guidelines.
Skiff officially changed his plea before Judge Daniel D. Domenico on March 8. Skiff is scheduled to be sentenced on June 6.
Wire fraud carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Social Security fraud carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Money laundering carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction. Skiff must also forfeit any property derived from proceeds traceable to the scheme.
The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General investigated the case.
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