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12 charged in Florida with collecting Social Security for dead people

Lock It Up -- Store important documents such as passports, Social Security cards, birth certificates and deeds in a watertight container.
Lock It Up -- Store important documents such as passports, Social Security cards, birth certificates and deeds in a watertight container.

TAMPA, Fla. – A dozen people in Florida have been charged in 11 cases of stealing more than $700,000 in Social Security benefits.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa announced the charges Wednesday.

Federal officials said they aggressively targeted people who stole money that the Social Security Administration had inadvertently paid to deceased beneficiaries, usually family members of those charged.

“As these charges demonstrate, stealing from SSA on behalf of a deceased beneficiary is a federal crime," Inspector General of Social Security Gail S. Ennis said in a statement. "We work closely with SSA and other government agencies to identify Social Security fraud and stop improper payments."

The 12 people charged with theft of government funds each face up to a decade in federal prison.