A California Man Disguised His Mother’s Death for 30 Years and Earned $800k in Benefits Meant for Her

A man from California admitted that he lied about his mother’s death for 30 years and took more than $800,000 in benefits that were meant for her.

Donald Felix Zampach, 65, of Poway, California, could spend up to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty in federal court this week to money laundering and Social Security fraud.

He said he hid the fact that his mother died in 1990 and forged her signature on documents and tax returns so she could keep getting her government benefits, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.

“This crime is believed to be the longest-running and largest fraud of its kind in this district,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman in a news release. “This defendant didn’t just passively collect checks mailed to his deceased mother. This was an elaborate fraud spanning more than three decades that required aggressive action and deceit to maintain the ruse.”

Before his mother died in Japan in 1990, Zampach told the police that he had stolen her house and filed for bankruptcy.

The tweet below verifies the news:

The attorney’s office said that after she died, he forged her signature on eligibility papers so he could keep getting a widow’s pension from the Social Security Administration and an annuity from the Department of Defense Finance Accounting Service.

Authorities say Zampach also told them he used his mother’s name to open credit accounts with at least nine different banks, costing them more than $28,000. Zampach said he used the money he stole to pay off the debt on his home in Poway.

Zampach said that between November 1990 and September 2022, he stole at least $830,238 from the government.

“He filed false income tax returns, posed as his mother, and signed her name to many documents, and when investigators caught up to him, he continued to claim she was still alive,” Grossman said. “As a result of this fraud, he received more than $800,000 in stolen public money.”

In exchange for his guilty plea, Zampach agreed to pay more than $830,000 and give up his home in Poway. He was given bail until his sentence hearing on September 20.

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