When Kent couple Ronnie George and Nancy Stone met with Social Security auditors, they told them that George was a "mental retard" who couldn't read or write and whose favorite possessions were "my toys, my cars and cowboys and G.I. Joes."
But when George met with prospective buyers for his used-car business, he was a slick-jawed haggler who was anything but a "mental retard."
Now George, 50, and Stone are headed to prison, having admitted to bilking the Social Security Administration--aka you the taxpayer--out of about $700,000 in fraudulently obtained benefits.
According to court documents filed in U.S. District Court, George and Stone's scheme began all the way back in 1990 when George first applied for Supplemental Security Income.
At the time he told the SSA that he was mentally disabled and that he existed mainly through the help of his "friends," who cooked his meals, drove him where he needed to go, and took care of his other needs. When asked about what he did at home, he said he "watch[es] Sesame Street" and plays with "G.I. Joes."
This information was good enough for the SSA to classify George as mentally disabled and start sending him monthly benefit checks.
Nine years later Ms. Stone showed up to another interview with George, posing as his "caretaker." There the two kept up the story that George is disabled and cannot work--only now it was Stone as well who wanted compensation for her role in caring for the man.
Stone's compensation was approved as well, and for 11 more years, the couple (they were actually married, though they never admitted that to the SSA) kept receiving disability benefits.
At some point, however, auditors started to suspect something fishy was going on, and they set up an undercover sting operation of sorts.
With a hidden camera, two SSA officials met with Mr. George after hearing that he may in fact be a used-car salesman. At that meeting, a smooth-talking George explained with ease the intricacies of buying a vehicle and why his stock of used cars was far superior than others.
Obviously this was a stark difference from the Mr. George who showed up with his wife at the SSA office, seemingly unable to do simple math or speak more than two- or three-word sentences.
Having caught the couple on video in both roles, the two were quick to admit their role in hopes of securing a more lenient sentence.
For George that sentence could be as many as three years in federal prison, where, sadly, there are no G.I. Joe action figures to play with.
Read the full indictment below.