Social Security Administration weaknesses exposed by Artur Samarin?

HARRISBURG, Pa (WHTM) – Federal officials are concerned about how Artur Samarin obtained a second Social Security card by using forged documents. Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey is calling for an internal review as the Inspector General offers security upgrades to Congress.

Artur Samarin admitted to ABC27 News that he was guilty of committing fraud when he spoke from inside Dauphin County Prison.

“I did abuse the system,” he said. “Yes, I did.”

The process in which Samarin obtained a second Social Security card has broader national security implications, according to investigators.

Stephayne Potts previously told ABC27 she helped Artur Samarin obtain a Social Security card by using a baptismal certificate from the Church of God Saint of Christ on N. 5th St. in Harrisburg. A church spokesperson said the church does not hand out such certificates.

Samarin said the Potts’ used the church to obtain a birth and baptismal certificate. Neither Stephayne or Michael Potts have been charged with any wrongdoing.

Authorities said the documents were forged.

Senator Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) released this statement to ABC27.

“I am very concerned by the reports that Mr. Samarin may have been issued a Social Security card based on forged identity documents. The [Social Security Administration] has a responsibility to carefully review all supporting documentation before issuing a Social Security card. The SSA should examine what happened in this case and implement procedures to detect fraudulent documents.”

According to requirements on the SSA website, a person applying to obtain an original Social Security card as an underage foreign adopted U.S. citizen must prove citizenship, age, and identity.

“Religious record” is an accepted form to prove identity and age, but the person must prove citizenship by other records. The process typically involves an in-person interview.

Authorities will review if there was a vetting process. Senator Casey’s office was investigating further about the acceptance of baptismal certificates.

The question is posed – should churches be allowed to provide legal documents pertained to age and identity.

Inspector General Patrick O’Caroll Jr. was on capitol hill Wednesday to issue remarks entitled “Protecting Social Security from Waste, Fraud, and Abuse.”

O’Caroll expressed concern to congressional members about weaknesses.

“In particular, we have long recommended that SSA verify information that is self-reported by applicants and beneficiaries, using other government data and third-party sources,” O’Caroll said.

He also outlined three major problems on SSA security:

  • lack of a comprehensive organization-wide risk management strategy;
  • weaknesses in network security controls indicating that SSA did not always timely remediate configuration-related vulnerabilities; and
  • numerous issues with logical access controls, which resulted in inappropriate and/or unauthorized access

SSA states there are 47 valid versions of Social Security cards in circulation, many of which do not have current security upgrades. More than 10 million Social Security cards are handed out each year.

The Federal Trade Commission stated recently there were three million consumer complaints of fraud, backlogging investigations.

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