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In February, Social Security officials calculated that a woman who was sent monthly checks for decades was 114 years old. The problem? The lifelong New Yorker died more than 40 years ago — and may never have seen a penny of her retirement checks totaling nearly a half-million dollars.
In one of the largest cases of its kind, authorities said the Social Security checks payable to her allegedly were cashed by her nephew. He is George William Doumar, 76, a small-business owner in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Doumar also collects the Social Security benefits due him, authorities say.
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The nephew allegedly didn't stop with Social Security checks. Though long gone, the late aunt was issued a $1,200 stimulus payment from the Treasury Department on May 1 and Doumar cashed it, according to a probable cause affidavit attached to a criminal complaint, issued Aug. 11.
Authorities plan to seek restitution for the total amount Doumar allegedly stole: $460,192.30. Here's the math: Deduct the stimulus check, and the Social Security checks payable to the late aunt totaled $458,992. The checks were issued for nearly 42 years, so that's about $912.50 a month, on average.
'Nice’ to have extra cash
Doumar told federal investigators that he did not need the checks, but “it was nice to have the extra money coming in every month,” the affidavit says, and he used the windfall to pay his mortgage, car loan, medical bills, utility bills and other expenses.
Now, Doumar is facing felony charges in federal court in Portland, Oregon. The counts carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. He is to make his first court appearance Aug. 24.
Both Doumar and his aunt, who is not named, lived in Brooklyn. She never married or had children, and before she died in New York at age 65 in 1971, she named Doumar the sole beneficiary of her life insurance payout, the affidavit says. Authorities noted that he attended her funeral, it says.
Doumar, in a brief telephone interview with AARP on Aug. 13, said: “I'm ashamed of myself — there's no question about it — but I have no comments on it. I really don't feel like talking about it now. I feel bad enough about it without talking about it."