Every passing week seems to bring another story of someone attempting to defraud the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Sometimes it is the veterans and sometimes it is people who never served a day in their life. Edwin Francis Lamken, 59, of Quartzite, AZ is the newest story of VA focused fraud. Lamken not only stole veterans’ benefits from the VA, he used his brother’s identity to make it happen.
Lamken served in the military and was discharged on February 12, 1971. He was court-martialed for Theft of Government Property and was discharged “under conditions other than honorable.” Last week U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton sentenced Lamken to an 18-month prison term and ordered him to pay restitution of $173,862. This sentence followed Lamken’s April 2010 guilty plea to Wire Fraud.
Edwin Lamken originally applied for veterans benefits in April, 1971 and was subsequently denied because of his discharge. He then applied for veterans benefits again in 1996; but this time around, he applied under the name of his brother, Charles Lamken. Charles Lamken was also a military veteran but unlike his brother, was entitled to benefits. Charles Lamken died in 2006 without ever having applied for VA health benefits or his VA pension. Between Edwin Lamken’s 1996 application date under his brother’s name and his brother’s death in 2006, Edwin was able to obtain VA medical care as well as $169,214 in pension pay outs.
Edwin Lamken used his brother’s identity for more than just defrauding the VA, however. He also opened a series of bank accounts, bought a home, and was even married. When Edwin Lamken was arrested, he had a driver’s license, a social security card, two bank cards, and 12 other forms of identification bearing his brother’s name.
The VA attempted to reduce Edwin Lamken’s pension benefits as they thought the real Charles Lamken was under-reporting his income. Edwin Lamken not only contacted the VA, he also contacted the Social Security Administration and his local Sheriff and reported he was a victim of identity theft claiming someone was trading on his name.
Defrauding the VA and taking money out of the pockets of deserving veterans is not an offense the VA takes lightly. To do so under the name of a veteran who served his country honorably is even worse. In the end, Edwin Lamken’s actions caught up with him.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact LaVan & Neidenberg. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.