New York City officials are calling it an outrageous and brazen scam.
FOX NEWS reports: "Nearly $600,000. Police say that's how much one man ripped off the welfare system by pretending to be his dead twin brother."
The New York Post reports that 52-year-old Thomas Murphy was arrested Tuesday for what prosecutors say was an almost two-decade scam of posing as his brother, Robert, who died a day after their birth in 1962.
Authorities told the outlet Murphy allegedly filed paperwork with Social Security saying the long-dead man was "suffering from depression." He reportedly collected a total of $581,805.80 in benefits from the scheme.
Police say Murphy also received food stamps and government housing subsidies as Robert, even though he was reportedly already raking in close to $80,000 as a city sanitation worker.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown told the New York Daily News, "With so many needy New Yorkers requiring affordable housing and assistance to put food on the table and pay for medical expenses, the City, State and Federal governments will not be tricked into providing support to persons who can well afford to pay their own way."
According to Census data released last month, the 2011 and 2012 American Community Survey found 3.3 million U.S. households, or 2.9 percent, received public assistance at some point during the previous year.
Others have tried to take advantage of the system before. Back in June, more than 50 people, including retired NYPD and FDNY members, pleaded guilty to a massive disability scheme in which they faked stress-related illnesses to get Social Security disability payments.
Authorities say Murphy was finally busted 20 years after he started the scam by facial recognition technology at the state Department of Motor Vehicles. He is facing multiple charges, including grand larceny, fraud and identity theft, and if convicted, he could spend up to 19 years behind bars. The New York Post attempted to speak to Murphy, but he reportedly didn't answer his door.
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