Covert Surveillance

Benjamin KrauseThe Department of Veterans Affairs made use of undercover agents and covert surveillance strategies against one veteran with multiple sclerosis in a malingering sting. The veteran was convicted of wrongfully receiving $1.5 million in compensation for claiming his condition was more severe than VA later found following its spy scheme.

In conjunction with the Social Security Administration, the VA orchestrated a sting against one veteran who trumped up the impact of his multiple sclerosis (MS). The Department of Justice prosecuted the case developed by VA and published the somewhat braggadocio titled, “Blythewood Man Convicted of Massive Government Fraud.”

The man allegedly made false statements about the severity of his MS. VA beleives the information he provided was an exaggeration and now the veteran is a criminal.

Why does the door not swing both ways when it comes to sophisticated VA senior executives who commit fraud or knowingly violate laws?

When I think of “massive,” I think of Bernie Madoff-style $1 billion plus type fraud schemes or government contractors who overcharged for services they never provided.

I want all of you to consider this result when seeking disability compensation benefits. It is important to accurately state your condition to the best of your ability. Then find a private doctor to evaluate your condition(s) and provide any reports to VA. This is a good way to ensure your case is accurately conveyed to the agency. If they make mistakes about how they interpret the data that is their problem.

My concern with this is that VA should not be in the game of surveillance against veterans. Instead, they should refer cases to DOJ prior to building out the evidence for the cases. I am not clear about VA’s ability or permissions to conduct secret stings against vets, and my best guess is that the agency really needs to focus its resources on employees scamming the system like Kim Graves or Diana Rubens – not veterans who are disabled.

In this case, there is no question that the veteran had MS and was discharged from the Navy. He apparently embellished on the impact of the condition – let’s keep in mind that MS does wax and wane – but I sure would feel better if the agency would avoid conducting stings on veterans since they are already horrible at evaluating disabilities in the first instance.

Anyway, here is the rest of the story from DOJ:

Blythewood Man Convicted of Massive Government Fraud

Contact Person: Bill Day (803) 929-3000

Columbia, South Carolina —- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Dennis Paulsen, age 45, of Blythewood was convicted of stealing more than $1.5 million from the United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the Social Security Administration following a seven-day jury trial in federal court in Columbia.  Mr. Nettles stated the maximum penalty Paulsen faces is imprisonment for up to 20 years and fines of $500,000, along with forfeiture of the more than $1.5 million.  Senior United States District Judge Margaret B. Seymour of Columbia presided over the trial and will impose sentence after she has reviewed the presentence report which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

In conducting one of the largest fraudulent single disability compensation claims in VA history, Paulsen substantially feigned and exaggerated the impairment resulting from his multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis.  After being diagnosed and discharged from the Navy in the early 1990s, Paulsen began receiving a monthly VA benefit as a result of his diagnosis.  Unsatisfied with the amount he was receiving, Paulsen began a pattern of malingering by claiming his MS rendered him unable to use his hands or feet in any respect.  Still unhappy with the money he was awarded, Paulsen ramped up his claims, lying to his doctors, presenting himself as house- and wheelchair- bound, and making false claims that he required daily professional medical care to live until his benefits were increased to the maximum disability payments available to a Veteran.  At the same time, Paulsen used the same feigned impairments to convince the Social Security Administration that he was entitled to SSA disability benefits.  Despite his feigned claims of impairments and presenting himself in a wheelchair to his doctors, Paulsen lived in a non-handicap accessible residence and was able to ride his motorcycle and jet skis plus play baseball and golf on a regular basis.  In 1999, Paulsen met his ex-wife at the gym where he exercised and worked training others.  In 2004, Paulsen sold their 5,000 square foot house for more than half of a million dollars and moved from Virginia to Blythewood, SC.

In Blythewood, Paulsen purchased a two-story brick house that was not handicapped accessible and stopped going to neurologists for his MS.  Illustrating his lack of impairment, Paulsen was active in several gyms, joined a baseball league from 2006 until 2014, and lived an active lifestyle, including playing pool, swimming in his backyard pool, playing on the beach, and driving his Escalade and manual shift Mini-Cooper. In 2014, a concerned citizen reported Paulsen to the VA and explained how Paulsen lacked the impairments that he claimed. Upon learning that the VA was looking into his actual impairment from MS, Paulsen immediately quit his baseball league and began appearing at the VA again in his wheelchair, claiming to be unable to walk or use his hands.

The extensive investigation by the VA and SSA included undercover agents, surveillance, and photographs and video footage from banks, stores, and the Columbia Metropolitan Airport. Family photographs kept by Paulsen’s ex-wife were also obtained showing Paulsen’s many activities with his family, playing baseball, and participating in a Marine Mud Run. Paulsen testified, in a wheelchair, for four hours and called three doctors as expert witnesses in an attempt to support his claim that he was and had been totally disabled. The guilty verdict reflects that the jury did not find this testimony credible.

The case was investigated by the Office of Inspector General for the Veteran’s Administration and Social Security Administration. Assistant United States Attorneys William E. Day II and Jay N. Richardson and of the Columbia office prosecuted the case.

There is no question this guy did the wrong thing based on this story. Would you call this kind of fraud “massive”? Should we trust VA to conduct secret surveillance stings on people with disabilities?

Source: http://www.justice.gov/usao-sc/pr/blythewood-man-convicted-massive-government-fraud

crazy elf
Hey brothers AND sisters, I believe today’s blog might see lots of trolls. It also is going to bring out frauds committed by service organizations AND service officers of said organizations! Go to “DAVREFORM.org”. Read the “comments section” (216 comments)! Some of the veterans who commented, gave links on frauds committed by DAV service personnel for their friends. These links go right to “Judicial Adjudications” of crimes committed against VA. Some are only a few years old. One such case… Read more »
crazy elf

I forgot,
Did this guy put in for his claims by himself? Or did he have help from attorneys or a VSO? I don’t remember reading that in it.

Also, if he had help, why wasn’t those people held accountable?

Kirk R

Hey Crazy Elf,

I will be checking out the posts on DAVReform.org but would like to point you in the direction of Wikipedia listing for Multiple sclerosis at: “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiple_sclerosis”

After reading Ben’s article on Mr. Paulsen I checked around the web and read a number of articles regarding him. I felt that the guy was a lying sack of something and he had scammed the system but after researching Multiple sclerosis I changed my opinion.

namnibor
I once in life knew an artist (a clay potter) that had MS. She served to educate me on different facets of MS. Sometimes MS will only affect one’s brain in a slow memory/cognitive way rather than the typical muscular and nervous system atrophies. Does the VA acknowledge real world science? Not usually. However, after more reading I too think this Veteran IS a lying sack of shat and pretty obvious grandstanding of his impairments…but then there’s that ex-wife thing… Read more »
crazy elf
@KirkR Thanks, I will also check out the websites over MS. I have never met anyone with MS, so maybe I might have misjudged this vet. We’ll see. When you read some of the comments on DAVREFORM. Check out the amounts of monies they have socked away for a rainy day. Or how much each higher up executive gets paid, according to their “990 tax form”! You’ll be amazed. That’s why I gave that ‘side note’ on “Who” will be… Read more »
TommyThis
I’m with you on this one Bro. Call most of those agencies about Veterans in forever pain and they tout the “obama line” that started all of this. Reminds me of going to Germany after getting back from Vietnam and reading about a bunch of Sgt Major’s (Some were retired) who were busted for selling cigarettes and liquor on the German black market since the end of WWII. Many of these organizations had their “gophers” troll many Veteran discussion groups… Read more »
Kirk R
When this case is researched there are a number of facts that stand out and it is very likely the verdict in this case will be appealed. First I would like to point out that it was his ex-father-in law who was the concerned citizen who reported him and that most of the evidence against Mr. Paulsen came from his ex-wife and photos she had posted on her blog website. They separated in 2012 and divorced in 2014 the same… Read more »
namnibor
I really do not know what to think about this case. The fact that *both* VA and Soc. Sec. were investigating this gives more credibility to the claims against this Veteran, unfortunately. Why? For one, the Social Sec. Adm. has a pretty huge disability claim backlog in EACH State and for SSA to even want to spend the time investigating in tandem with the VA and the supplied facts for this case as presented, shows their very likely was reason… Read more »
namnibor

Word Of The Day is “MASSIVE”. You can even find the ‘VA’ within the word of the day that is “mAssiVe”. You can also find the word ‘ass’ within it. Fitting.

91Veteran

I dunno Nam, but going from wheel chair bound to golfing then back to wheel chair bound is a tough sell for me…As is claiming $400k in moving expenses.

In my opinion, I would bet money his ex-wife dropped a dime on him. Probably one of the very few whistle blowers the VA never tried to retaliate against.

krc

Where’s the investigation into Diana Rubens’ wife, Kim Beale, going from a GS to a GS-15 in approximately 8 years? Where’s the investigation into how Ms. Beale was allowed to move to Philadelphia as a GS-15 to “work from home” when the job required her presence in D.C.? Where’s the investigation into how Diana Rubens covered up the suicide of a Veteran-employee at the Philadelphia Regional Office commencing in 12/2014 when she was the Director?

Hondo
There are 2 standards here. The veteran is always guilty with swift partial legal action requiring them to pay back anything received as compensation. VA employees are innocent, never proven guilty or prosecuted for any wrong doing, and usually get a bonus and promotion. How many layers of professionally trained licensed VA medical experts collecting big pay checks and bonuses got this so wrong for so long?????? There are vets with both legs missing who have to fight for the… Read more »
91Veteran

Good point. How many “qualified” VA doctors affirmed his condition?

On the other hand, was it easy for this guy to pull this off because the VA used someone UNQUALIFIED to evaluate him?

Hondo

Great point 91, the license doesn’t always mean qualified…………but VA isn’t known for picking the most qualified are they…

namnibor

However, they all have a license to kill. Even the non-educated idiots at the VA can kill with the stroke of a key-entry.
Passive-Aggressive, the whole lot of them.

91Veteran
I don’t believe this was massive when compared to other blatant cases of fraud or abuse that has been very public, but not prosecuted. Graves and Rubens should have been prosecuted. Those involved in screwing up the construction in Denver and elsewhere should be prosecuted. Those pushing the latest multi-million dollar software or IT hardware fix should be prosecuted. All of those are massive compared to this. Now, compared to a veteran not getting what they truly need such as… Read more »
namnibor
Spot-on, 91veteran!! Just like that “Veteran” selected via Google Earth to ask a “VA Related Question” and then when given his chance made it into a Black Lives Matter thing…it makes it APPEAR that all is well at the VA and this Veteran is more concerned about ‘X’, and discredits Vets and I believe this is by design, no less! Remember just last week McDonald wanted to overhaul the VA Appeal Process. Cannot tell this is not connected as a… Read more »
keepingitreal
The rating officer in SLC who approved this bogus disability claim , his wife communicated with Ms Corinne Hogg who is a VA social worker in he northern Colorado area/WY. I think the people need to know that the federal/state government eliminates any negative, and truthful comments about this person. She has them convinced the government she is in some danger-this is so far from the truth, if anyone is dangerous it is her, an alcoholic with many domestic visits from… Read more »
James Gallegos

Who are u do you work for the VA.?

Just Amazing the fraud allowed
Just Amazing the fraud allowed

No James. This is just one of your many scammers who is playing the sympathy card. No one is really bothering her, just getting the truth out there. Why do you think I work for the VA?? Lets do something about people who commit fraud like the above report!!! The VA is sooo afraid of a discrimination suit. By the way she does work at your ft Collins. CO VA healthcare (HUD/VASH) program.

Just Amazing the fraud allowed
Just Amazing the fraud allowed

They need to do surveillance on Corinne Hogg…it shouldn’t take long.

Keepingitreal
keepingitreal  May 22, 2017 at 12:38 pm The rating officer in SLC who approved this bogus disability claim , his wife communicated with Ms Corinne Hogg who is a VA social worker in he northern Colorado area/WY. I think the people need to know that the federal/state government eliminates any negative, and truthful comments about this person. She has them convinced the government she is in some danger-this is so far from the truth, if anyone is dangerous it is her,… Read more »
James Gallegos

Become a whistle blower, call the OIG, they will help you get this dishonest veteran, if you have the proof go for it.

You know the OIG is not faking. They are on the up and up.

While your at it, turn the rest of them in, you know most employees are faking something.

Dennis

I’m not condoning this guy or anything but none of what he has done excuses how VA examiners low ball veterans all the time on their disability evaluations!!

James
This worrys me.because I had a doctor place into my official record that I was stabbed while in the military. I wrote the director.Bob McDonald and other agencies telling them of my concerns.that if my official record was ever needed in a legal proceedings I could be accused of falsely telling the doctor that I was stabbed while in the military. The response from the Denver director.write a letter stating what’s wrong and how it should read and they would… Read more »
Victor
Jesus! He didn’t want to go to M.D.’s to kill his liver and kidneys with drugs (which DON’T work for M.S. anyway) He was approaching a physical fitness program which is the absolute BEST program he could do. It sounds like he was making great strides, He may have let greed interfere with his thought process in haste though (MS effects people mentally as well.) If we could all get backpay for our complete lives being wrecked and just-timely settlements,… Read more »
Bruce Wallace
I have been silent on this site for months as my PTSD has been totally out of control, but I am forcing myself to comment here due to the ABSOULTELY OUTRAGEOUSLY IGNORANT SHITNESS THE VA HAS DUMPED ON THE MS PATIENT IN QUESTION! Please take a look at the following link if you have any desire to help the veteran Ben has referred to in this ‘Massive Fraud Case’. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Symptoms-Diagnosis/MS-Symptoms/Emotional-Changes This is far beyond incompetence on the part of the… Read more »
namnibor
Well said, Bruce and thanks for even further enlightening us about this horrific disease. The VA is indeed very behind the times on many facets of the advances made in the Medical Community…BUT, what’s really weird is the VA utilizes Medical Residents from ALL major Universities around this USA *and* shitty parts of the world to TRAIN ON US, then most LEAVE the VA, this the VA has become even more reliant on -1- Attending that oversees a MINION of… Read more »
91Veteran
That was a very good explanation Bruce, thank you for writing all of it. It also more clearly explains how he could get 3 expert witnesses to testify on his behalf. It makes me wonder what the prosecution said to discount their testimony. It reminds me of ALS in the 1990’s. The VA knew Gulf War veterans had a significantly higher prevalence of ALS than the general population, yet refused to presume it service connected, or ask Congress for the… Read more »
crazy elf

This name should bring back memories of the “HOW” MS attacks a person. And, to “WHAT” it does to a person’s physical and mental capabilities –
Annette Funicello!
Her “physical and mental capabilities” slowly dissipated over many years.
The young man in question was only 45, I believe. Therefore, his “disabilities” could get worse! If so, then he should be found
“NOT GUILTY!”

As for the VA using “Spy Techniques” to invade his privacy – SHAME ON THEM!

namnibor
@crazyelf- You and I are on the same wavelength sometimes. After doing some more reading it reminded me of how it’s not so neat and cut and dry set progression for some rather hard to knock down diseases. This is true even with advances in medicines used to long term treat some infectious diseases. It’s different hell for everyone. Personal Hell. The wavelength I was riding showed me that I too, think this Veteran is getting screwed and pile-driven by… Read more »
merri busch

The VA OIG conducts investigations of fraud, waste and abuse, Ben. Every other insurance claims system for long term disability, workers compensation, etc., has a ‘sub rosa’ investigatory arm. You act surprised, but the DoJ doesn’t do the investigations. It does the prosecutions. And, I appreciate your emphasis on veterans accurately reporting the facts of their claims. Indeed, the time spent paying someone who used the system fraudulently creates problems for the veterans trying to get a legitimate claim through.

Hondo
As you, whom ever you are, state………. “time spent paying someone who used the system fraudulently creates problems for the veterans trying to get a legitimate claim through.” What about the time spent on the 2 senior VA bimbos who were found breaking a number of laws who are still employed collecting very large taxpayer salaries exonerated of any wrong doing most likely getting a bonus promotion an apology from the same people responsible for seeing that they don’t break… Read more »
James
Yes insurance companies check for fraud.which they should. The veterans really can’t keep the VA honest.when they have a severe disability and they deny veterans of their disability and then when they reapply and reapply after being denied for forty years And they did not use the rule. If there is a judgement that the disability could or could not be granted a judgement call. The VA rule is to go in favor of the veterans. And they don’t and… Read more »
More Tinfoil
Everyone knows, huh? I have gotten everything I have asked for and than some because I had the proper evidence. 3 claims submitted, 3 claims granted + more than I asked for. In fact, the VA has been caught giving higher than merited disability evaluations in well over 100,000 cases and that is just looking at the vets with a 100% rating. The VA routinely OVERRATES vets but you clueless paranoid losers here ignore that. A vet getting denied is… Read more »
James Gallegos
Your right and yours needs to be looked at very closely. By someone other than your friend. Uncle or other relative. Who did your rating. Was it Diana Rubins or Graves. How much of a kick back did they receive. About $425 thousand dollars. The VA hid my official military record’s and only reappeared after an attorney got involved. Amazing what someone can do when they know the Law. VA employees have ignored the Law so long They (you) think… Read more »
Glenn McBride

In the end, VA surveillance of veterans is nothing new. This is something I deal with every time I leave my house. Feel free to check out my videos for more information; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoML8Lvnih4

namnibor

Holy bat crap, Glen! Too bad you cannot spy on their wifi signal and more. That sucks. Good job documenting and very reason I keep a video camera really handy, if needed, close by.
It’s already resulted in an arrest of a thug breaking into cars that were unlocked in my parking lot but none of the X-File variety 🙂

Edward J. Blassingame Sr
Edward J. Blassingame Sr

I have no problem in weeding out fraud and corruption but the hypocrisies within VA itself makes that look a drop in the bucket. Not only do they encourage and condone despicable acts by its directors but go out of their way to protect them. What’s good for the Goose is good for the gander!

Dina Padilla
The only VA employees who will be sacked, fired, will be the ones who are the whistle blowers just as anyone else who dares tell on any govt agency, corporation or civil or military or any non profit organization screw ups or criminal acts. COINTELPRO was a spy program used by the FBI in the 70’s and IFRAGARD is used by the FBI. The first was too be stopped & wasn’t cause now the FBI is hired by the employers… Read more »
namnibor
Orwell wrote ‘1984’ back in 1948. He simply rearranged digits for the ‘future’ he already saw looming on horizon. Now here we are in a REAL WAR that’s lasted over 14 years continuously. In ‘1984’, the ‘war’ is what fueled everything and became everything but yet it was not even real at all…just a machine, a war machine invested by humans and used to justify instilled paranoia from absolutely no privacy, not even ‘thoughts’ because there was of course, ‘The… Read more »
malakieusn

Keep in mind that every single V/A hospital has a full fledge Federal Uniformed Police Department in it. Therefore they have their own U.S. Government law enforcement agency that can handle and deal with this kind of stuff.

More Tinfoil

LOL

Those guys are glorified security officers. They don’t do any real investigations.

You guys are pathetic.

Robert
This is a basic workers comp fraud investigation. The FBI does not touch these cases. It’s usually left to the respective agencie’s OIG to conduct the investigation. Good OIG’s coordinate closely with their Assistant U.S Attorney (AUSA) at the beginning of the investigation. The AUSA office won’t investigate the case but they assist in ensuring its done properly. In this case it sounds like it was done right. A disabled veteran convicted at a jury trial tells me the evidence… Read more »
Dennis
I was told this one time from a wounded Viet-Nam vet about his PTSD evaluation. He said the examiner inferred that he might have accidently shot himself in Viet-Nam and the vet answered no he didn’t shoot himself. The Viet Cong shot him. The examiner then asked him if he ever heard of anyone shooting themselves while he was over in Viet-Nam. The veteran answered no on that one too. Then the examiner asked him if he thought it was… Read more »
James

That’s a big problem.no one believes the veterans.it’s easier to think were lieing or just crazy.

That’s why the VA gets away with so much. If it would be one of their family members who this happened too.it would be a different story.

The VA is supposed to rule in favor of the veterans.but they do every thing they can.to not support the veteran.

Bonuses.are the game.

Don Karg

02/01/2016

Dear Benjamin Krause,

Ben you asked, “Why does the door not swing both ways when it comes to sophisticated VA senior executives who commit fraud or knowingly violate laws?”

If you are the Dictator you can do what you want—the door does not swing in both directions.

The problem with this dictatorship—it is not controlled by the Americans.

Sincerely,

Don Karg

James Hall
In my fathers day and his they new fraud was a public sector term. When in cam to the government they would have called it what it is TREASON!! AGAIN TREASON!!. That my friends is what is going on in this country today. There are so many laws on the books if they won’t to get you they can justify it on any law they choose, therefor the idea of Constitutionalism does not exist. They live above the law and… Read more »
More Tinfoil

Have you even read the Constitution?

Treason in defined in it and has nothing to do with government workers committing fraud.

Maybe if you educated yourself a little, you might be taken seriously.

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”

Moron

krc
Diana Rubens in her Hearing last week made astonishing accusations against the VA OIG and the Congressional Oversight Committee. In addition, by appealing her demotion by VA top brass, her being despised by Veterans and VA employees, and the perseverance of those whistleblowers she screwed-over through the years, she’s certainly made quite an enemy’s list. Her days of arbitrary and capricious use of her power are well over. The best thing that can come out of this comedy of errors… Read more »
James
I hope the employees will not take any crap from those two and watch them like a hawk. Keep notes or make reports if and when they try to think they can do what ever they want to do to employees. What goes around comes around and one day they will mess up bad and will be dealt with by someone in real power and has the wisdom to know enough is enough. The citizens of these United state’s are… Read more »
Ramona
My 29 year old daughter is rated for MS and a dozen secondary conditions. She receives several SMCs (you can sometimes get the same SMC twice when two separate limbs are affected, or more than once SMC concurrently). When she has a serious flare-up, she stays home, where the VA can’t see what is happening to her physically or mentally. At times she requires use of a wheelchair, since her feet and legs often go numb. At other times she… Read more »
Jeff

The VA’s incompetence to weed out their internal fraud speaks volumes on their lack of ability to investigate Vets. I don’t understand how this guy, or any other Vet could get away with that. Didn’t the the VA give hi a comp & pen? The fraud on both sides needs to be stopped, but charging the VA with investigating Vets is like putting Barney Fife in charge of Fort Knox.

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