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An Oregon man described as someone who “wore lots of jewelry” and “flashed pictures of trips to Lebanon” was caught in a disability fraud scheme that cost the government more than $200,000.
Jason I. Boutros, 49, bought a silver Mercedes SL500 roadster and a tanning bed with the help of the federal government, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA).
“An unemployed Southeast Portland man who reportedly wore lots of jewelry, flashed pictures of trips to Lebanon and owned a Mercedes was sentenced to six months of prison Wednesday for cashing disability checks for a sister who was living outside the United States,” according to an article by the Oregonian, which was posted on the SSA website on Friday. His prison term begins May 19.
Boutros will also have to pay nearly $221,000 in restitution to the SSA and the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), for the scheme that involved him and four family members who received disability, Medicaid, and food stamps, even though they lived in Lebanon for “long stretches.”
The scheme lasted nearly a decade, from March 2002 to August 2011, according to the indictment. Boutros was receiving disability benefits by electronic payment from the SSA directly into “various” Bank of America accounts.
Boutros was caught after he sought more money from DHS in 2009. The agency began looking into his request for “home-care” services for his mother, who they learned was living in Lebanon.
“The discovery led to further investigation by several state and federal agencies over the next four years into Supplemental Security Income and other benefits the Boutros family members sought,” the article said.
"It started out as a $912.52 home-care provider (investigation) and turned into a $220,000 Medicaid and SSI fraud case," Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the district of Oregon Helen Cooper said.
Employees at a local pharmacy visited by Boutrous also aided the investigation. The workers raised questions about his “lifestyle,” after Boutros was seen wearing “lots of jewelry” and “showed photos of trips to Lebanon.”
When his home was raided in April 2013, agents discovered a “Mercedes in the garage and a tanning bed in another building on the property.”
“Boutros' parents, Zakia and Iskander Boutros, have also been indicted but have fled the country, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office,” the report said.