New York City Comptroller John Liu announced Monday that his office has uncovered at least $500,000 worth of pension fraud involving workers who have died.
Liu's office and the city's Department of Investigation conducted a joint analysis, cross-checking pension payments with death records from 2007-2009. The study found at least 14 cases in which a dead retiree's pension checks had been cashed or pension checks had continued to be deposited in the dead retiree's account.
Liu's office found another 171 cases totaling $2 million in which pension payments were issued to dead people but not cashed during the same period.
"This suspected pension fraud wastes the public's money and undermines security for the city's workers and retirees," Liu said in a statement. "It fuels cynicism and distrust about public pensions, unfairly stigmatizing hardworking employees and retirees who have dedicated years of service doing the right thing for the city.
Of the 14 alleged cases, one was most egregious: Someone used the dead retiree's driver license to cash 38 pension checks totaling $139,818 after the retiree's death in 2007. When the license expired in 2010, it was renewed and the person or persons continued to cash the dead retiree's checks.
The alleged fraud totaled just a small fraction of the $29 billion the city shelled out in pension payments from 2007-2009. But Liu said it was essential to continue such analyses in order to root out ongoing abuse.