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STOLEN VALOR: Missouri Pretender Gets Four Years In The Slammer

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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A man from Missouri was sentenced to four years and three months in prison Thursday for pretending to be a Navy veteran in order to receive benefits.

In total, 63-year-old Eric D. Smith fraudulently received about $234,000 in benefits. The total sum includes the money he wrongfully took from agencies in other states, as well, such as Maryland, Georgia and Florida, where he perpetrated similar crimes, The Associated Press reports.

He’ll have to pay $234,461 back to those various agencies.

Smith pleaded guilty in February. He violated the False Claims Act and committed student loan fraud by assuming the identity of a Navy veteran, even though he didn’t serve. The scheme lasted from October 2012 to April 2014. During his scam, he managed to receive an ID card from the Department of Veterans Affairs, in addition to health benefits from the VA.

Smith “fraudulently received approximately $15,459 in VA health care treatment, $12,956 in Veterans Retraining Assistance Program educational benefits and $656 in travel benefits from the Kansas City VA Medical Center,” according to a Department of Justice press release.

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