Man Fabricated Twin, Doubled Government Goodies For Decades

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A Seattle man fooled multiple government agencies for more than two decades by pretending to be his own doppelgänger and collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Travis Edward Fischer claimed federal Social Security checks, food aid, medical benefits and housing assistance for a second home for more than 20 years under the fictitious name Edward Travis Fischer, inverting his first and middle name. Fischer, now 49, began his scheme in 1987. It wasn’t discovered until 2011 when a case manager noticed both names in the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) database and suspected fraud.

Fischer initially told authorities he was a victim of identity theft, then claimed he had a twin brother who was also collecting benefits. Fischer now faces up to 35 years behind bars after a federal jury found him guilty of theft, mail fraud and making false statements.

“By pretending to be two completely separate people, Fischer was able to illegally collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD),” the DOJ said in a statement on the case.

Fischer applied for Social Security disability benefits under his true name in 1984. Three years later, he applied for Supplemental Security Income benefits under the name Edward Fischer, using a different Social Security number. The SSA approved those benefits and began paying them the same year. Fischer subsequently illegally collected more than $160,000 through the years.

Fischer then used the fake identity to receive food and medical benefits from DSHS, totaling more than $164,000 over two decades.

While Fischer lived in one Seattle neighborhood with his girlfriend and three children, he used his fake identity to receive housing benefits for a low-income housing unit in a different neighborhood. Fischer used the second home to house guests and receive mail under his fake name, bilking taxpayers out of more than $152,000 in housing benefits.

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