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Thieves targeting social security payments

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Fraudsters are targeting Social Security checks in a scheme that involves rerouting money using the Social Security Administration's own website.

Pasco County resident Barbara Marrs said it happened to her, but she caught it before her money was sent to a bank account in Miami.

"It was scary," said Marrs, 72.

Marrs says she was tipped off when she got a letter from the Social Security Administration, confirming a new online account that she says she did not create.

Reports of fraud allegations involving the scheme have come in from a number of locations around the country, said Jonathan Lasher, assistant inspector general for external relations in the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General.  Lasher said the allegations are referred to the office by SSA.

The scheme appears to be similar to one that surfaced last year, involving redirected payments.

Last year, thieves obtained personal information and used several strategies to redirect money, including just calling SSA, Lasher said.  This year, suspects appear to be creating "my Social Security" accounts on ssa.gov.

Authorities made some arrests for the fraud last year, and say in some cases suspects called individuals and told them they won the lottery, then collected personal information.

Marrs says she did not get a call like that, and doesn't know how someone got her social security number.

Individuals can block electronic access to accounts by going to this website

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