A North Jersey woman has been arrested after federal authorities say she stole over $1 million worth of federal benefits meant for her deceased aunt over a 25-year period.

77-year-old Janis Miller of South Orange is facing one count of wire fraud. On Thursday, she made an initial court appearance and was released on a $100,000 unsecured bond.

According to documents filed in this case,

  • In 1998, Miller’s aunt died. Unaware of her death, the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) paid approximately $1.01 million in retirement and survivor benefits to the bank account of Miller’s deceased aunt.
  • By debit card, cash withdrawals, and forged checks made out to a company Miller controlled, she unlawfully disbursed virtually all of those embezzled funds.
  • In 2022, to continue her unlawful receipt of the benefits, Miller, in a telephone conversation with an SSA employee, impersonated her deceased aunt and provided her aunt’s approximate birthdate.

Officials discovered the fraud and discontinued the benefits in 2023, around 25 years after Miller began allegedly stealing those benefits.

If convicted, Miller faces up to 20 years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

The public is reminded that charges are accusations and all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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