Brooklyn District Attorney's office/AP
This May 2009 image provided by the Brooklyn District Attorney's office shows
Thomas Parkin, left, on a Department of Motor Vehicles security camera, dressed up as his
mother according to prosecutors.

Man Dressing as Dead Mother Is Latest Twist on Collecting Deceased Relatives’ Benefits

June 19, 2009 07:30 AM
by Rachel Balik
In order to keep her home and collect her social security benefits, Thomas Parkin impersonated his dead mother.

Brooklyn Man Collected Dead Mother’s Benefits

Catchy newspaper headlines are comparing Thomas Parkin to a real-life Norman Bates from the movie “Psycho.” Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes told CBS News that “his schemes were absolutely brilliant.” Parkin has engaged in several types of fraud in order to keep the Brooklyn home of his dead mother, as well as collect her benefits from social security and social services. And he’s accomplished this by pretending to be her.

For six years, Parkin has been masquerading as his late mother, Irene Prusik, wearing a wig, getting manicures and even breathing through an oxygen tank. He put a false social security number on her death certificate, and traveled to the DMV in order to renew her driver’s license. He and his accomplice, Mhilton Rimolo (who pretended to be Prusik’s “nephew,”) pocketed $117,000 in social security payments and the city’s rental assistance program, and also received a $940,000 mortgage loan.

The elaborate scheme started in 2003 when Parkin was unable to pay for the house his mother left him in her will, reported the Village Voice blog. The bank foreclosed on the home and it was sold at auction. The plan to recover the house was highly complex. Parkin pretended to be his mother and sued the new owner of the Park Slope home, claiming that “her” son Parkin had illegally sold the home with forged documents.

Police eventually uncovered the scheme through the lawsuit proceedings. When they came to the house they were greeted by Parkin in full costume, including fake breasts. They say they realized Parkin was a man because of his big hands.

Background: In Recession, People Go to Extremes to Keep Benefits

As the economic crisis has deepened, numerous instances of such fraud have turned up. In another story reminiscent of “Psycho,” a man in upstate New York kept his mother’s body in the fridge and failed to report her death so he could continue collecting her social security checks. Another couple in California tried harder to cover their tracks: Tony Ray, 30 and Kathleen Allmond, 50 cremated her dead mother in their backyard and collected $25,000 in retirement benefits. Only when Allmond’s brother became suspicious about their mother’s absence was their deed uncovered. Both of the elderly people were suspected to have died from natural causes, although Ray and Allmond were also charged with elderly abuse.

In a less serious case, two men were charged with cashing a $355 social security check of a friend who had died. However, their story is slightly more gruesome in that they rolled his dead body to the social security office in an office chair.

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