Jacksonville Man Pleads Guilty To Stealing His Twin’s Identity To Obtain Veterans Benefits

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Long Beach, California - USA - March 15, 2021: Sign at the Veterans Affairs complex Long Beach California. Editorial Use Only.

Jacksonville, Florida – Wayne Bowen (64, Jacksonville) has pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft. He faces a mandatory penalty of two years in federal prison. As part of his plea agreement, Bowen has agreed to reimburse various federal agencies a total of $63,773 for the government benefits he received in connection with his identity theft scheme.

According to the plea agreement, in 2014, Bowen used the name, Social Security card, and military discharge papers of his estranged twin brother to apply for federally subsidized housing benefits. The specific subsidy – intended for indigent military veterans – was funded under a joint program administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Unlike his twin, Bowen is not a military veteran.

When interviewed by federal agents, Bowen admitted that he had been using his twin brother’s identity for years. He had obtained a Florida identification card using his twin’s identity and had been arrested and convicted of felony offenses under his twin’s name. Although Bowen initially told the agents that he, like his twin, had served in and been honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, Bowen later relented and admitted those were lies.

Due to Bowen’s fraudulent use of his twin’s identity, the VA provided him with $32,434 in medical services, HUD provided him with $18,905 in housing subsidies, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture funded $12,434 in nutritional benefits for him. Bowen’s twin has confirmed that he did not apply for any of these benefits and that he never gave Bowen permission to use his name.

“The defendant pleaded guilty today for his abhorrent conduct in defrauding multiple federal and state benefit programs by assuming the identify of his twin brother who had justly earned these benefits,” said Special Agent in Charge David Spilker of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s Southeast Field Office. “The VA OIG will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure the integrity of VA’s benefit programs.”   

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Coolican.

 

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