Ex-DHHR caseworker charged with stealing identities, benefits - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Ex-DHHR caseworker in Logan charged with stealing identities, benefits

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A 41-year-old caseworker in the Logan office of the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Services has been indicted on 35 counts of fraud after allegedly obtaining more than $50,000 in benefits using other peoples' identifying information.

Shannon Collins, a Logan resident, allegedly used the Social Security numbers of two deceased individuals to establish accounts through which she could claim benefits, then used those accounts to file false claims and arrange for benefits to be mailed to a post office box. The indictment alleges Collins also mailed herself two EBT cards, formerly the food stamp program, which she used until December 2009.

Over a nine-month period Collins allegedly defrauded DHHR out of $52,000, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said.

A federal grand jury in Charleston indicted Collins, also known as Shannon Varney, on multiple charges of mail fraud, access device fraud, Social Security fraud and aggravated identity theft.

If she's convicted, Collins could face up to 20 years in prison on each count of mail fraud, and two years of mandatory incarceration on each count of aggravated identity theft. She also faces up to five years in prison for misuse of Social Security numbers and 10 years for the alleged access device fraud.

The investigation was conducted by the Office of the Inspector General for DHHR, assisted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Social Security Administration, and the United States Department of Agriculture. Assistant United States Attorney Erik S. Goes is in charge of the prosecution.