Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

More than 300 Social Security checks stolen throughout Tampa Bay

When the first few days of the month passed and his Social Security check hadn't come, Joseph Servedio called the U.S. Postal Service.

Wait one more day, they told him. It would arrive sometime soon.

He didn't like that answer. Servedio is 85 and lives alone in Seminole. He has a mortgage, car payment and medical costs. His bills, he said, add up to more than $1,500 a month. Servedio lives on a monthly pension of about $700 and that Social Security check of a little more than $1,000.

As of Thursday, Servedio's check — and more than 300 others around Tampa Bay — still hadn't come.

The checks were stolen, said U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, whose office had been inundated with calls from distraught residents. He was told by investigators that the theft appeared to be an inside job carried out by one or two people, though he declined to divulge for which agencies the suspects work.

"Apparently, this is fairly widespread," Young said. "It's hundreds and mainly in Pinellas County."

Investigators have already identified the culprits, Young said. A spokesman for the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General, which is handling the investigation, didn't return messages seeking comment.

Meanwhile, people like Servedio have been left to beg their creditors for patience.

"I've been sweating it out for 10 days," he said. "This is so ridiculous. So crazy."

Robert Jones, who is 80 and also from Seminole, hasn't received his check, either. A few days ago, he tried to get answers at the Social Security Administration building on 49th Street N in Clearwater. He said about 200 others in the same situation were waiting outside.

Jones later requested an appointment, he said, but was told none were available for a month.

"I just can't fathom that this sort of thing would happen," he said. "It's a disaster is what it is."

His 68-year-old wife, Barbara, at last got her check on Thursday. It's only for about $420, though. His is three times that.

Her check will cover the mortgage and the cost of their medications. After that, they'll have about $40 left for groceries.

The couple, he said, lives entirely off the Social Security payments.

"That's all we got," he said. "At the end of the month, we're lucky to have five bucks left."

So, how have they lived for the last two weeks?

"I like peanut butter and jelly," he said. "You know, we manage."

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at jcox@tampabay.com.

Help for victims

Those who have not received Social Security checks should do the following:

• First, call the special contact number toll-free at 1-855-722-3506, then dial 0. Representatives will offer assistance.

• Those in dire need may be able to receive a same-day payment of up to $999. In nonemergency situations, the replacement checks should arrive within three to five days.

• People who are instructed to visit a local office to arrange for their payments must bring proof of their identity. Identification should include name, a photograph and age or date of birth. Examples include: driver's license, state-issued nondriver identification card, a U.S. passport or Department of Homeland Security immigration documents. If none of those are possible, victims will need: an employee ID card, a school ID card, a health-insurance card or a U.S. military ID card.

More than 300 Social Security checks stolen throughout Tampa Bay 10/11/12 [Last modified: Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida education news: Makeup days, accountability, charter schools and more

    Blogs

    MAKEUP DAYS: The Pasco County school district alters the daily schedule of 11 schools to make up teaching time missed because of Hurricane Irma, avoiding the …

    With students back in school after Hurricane Irma, schools across Florida begin scheduling makeup days for missed classroom time.
  2. How visiting a scenic Cuban resort can help save green sea turtles

    Wildlife

    The Florida Aquarium has been collaborating with Cuba's National Aquarium since 2015 to help save coral dying throughout Caribbean waters.

    The beaches of Cuba's Cayo Largo are home to a large population of green sea turtle nests. The Florida Aquarium will lead eco-tours of Cayo Largo next year that will help protect the turtles and fund research.  [Avalon Outdoor]
  3. Photo of the Day for September 22, 2017 - Willets taking flight

    Human Interest

    Today's Photo of the Day comes from Dan Cleary of Madeira Beach, FL.

  4. Why a true freshman quarterback doesn't kill FSU's title hopes

    College

    Florida State's James Blackman will make history Saturday when the No. 12 Seminoles host North Carolina State in their first game after Hurricane Irma.

    Florida State quarterback James Blackman warms up before a game against Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, in Atlanta. When Florida State's Deandre Francois, Georgia's Jacob Eason and Texas A&M's Nick Starkel all got hurt in their respective season openers, true freshmen ended up taking over the rest of the way.  (Joe Rondone/Tallahassee Democrat via AP)
  5. Puerto Rico could face months without electricity after Hurricane Maria (w/video)

    Hurricanes

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The eye of Hurricane Maria was nearing the Turks and Caicos early Friday as Puerto Rico sought to recover from the storm's devastation.

    A pregnant woman carries empty plastic bottles to collect water a day after the impact of Hurricane Maria, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, Thursday, September 21, 2017. As of Thursday evening, Maria was moving off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic with winds of 120 mph (195 kph). The storm was expected to approach the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas late Thursday and early Friday. [Associated Press]