A scammer grandma said she siphoned off some $160,000 in social security benefits through an elaborate scheme involving the identity of her ex-husband’s wife.
Joyce Cohen, 60, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Brooklyn Federal Court to a social security fraud scheme she ran for 23 years.
Cohen’s 1994 social security application complained of impairments like “major depression” and “cocaine abuse,” according to court papers.
But prosecutors said Cohen has been a registered nurse since 1988. She was working in the name of the other woman, according to court papers.
Cohen will have to repay the sum — and pay the city Housing Authority approximately $117,000 for a related housing subsidy swindle.
Court papers said Cohen married her husband in 1990. The unidentified man was already married though to an Israeli-born woman who came to America in 1972.
In 1991, Cohen had her name changed to match the first wife’s name and a year after that, an application was made so that the first wife had the same birth date as Cohen.
Ultimately, Cohen said she and her husband were granted a religious divorce known as a “get.”
On Wednesday, Cohen tearfully told Judge Eric Vitaliano she and her ex-husband — who’s not charged in the case — wrongly received the benefits.
“The intention was to get social security benefits when we were not entitled to them,” she wept.
Prosecutors said her sentence could run up to two years.
Cohen’s lawyer declined to comment on the plea.