A 36-year-old Douglas County man admitted last week to inventing 10 children, setting aside $324,000 in government benefits for them and then sending the money to himself.
Justin Skiff, of Castle Pines, pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud, Social Security fraud and money laundering on March 8 in a Denver federal courtroom.
The plea agreement signed by Skiff and federal prosecutors details how the Social Security Administration employee in its Littleton office used his position to defraud taxpayers.
Beginning in summer 2019, Skiff gave Social Security numbers to the 10 fictitious kids and claimed their parents had died without heirs. He then appointed Michael Baird, a real person whose identity Skiff stole, to receive payments on the kids’ behalf. The SSA mailed the money on prepaid cards to a UPS store where Skiff, pretending to be Baird, nabbed them.
Skiff would then withdraw the money at an ATM and move it to his bank accounts or buy money orders payable to his mother, who is identified in court documents only as B.S.
Skiff took many of the children’s names from popular culture, court documents show. They include Jack Donaghy, the name of Alec Baldwin’s character on the former NBC sitcom “30 Rock”; Elle Woods, who shares a name with the protagonist of the “Legally Blonde” movies; and Lisa Bouvier, a name Lisa Simpson once used on “The Simpsons.”
At one point, he used the stolen tax dollars to buy a $24,000 diamond engagement ring, which the government seized during a search warrant of his house last April.
The government ultimately paid $490,979 in Social Security and economic stimulus benefits to the fictitious children that Skiff invented, but $166,778 of that was sent after his accounts were frozen. So, the amount Skiff took is $324,201, according to his plea agreement.
Skiff will be sentenced June 6. In addition to repaying the $324,201, he faces a prison sentence of 33 to 87 months, a fine of $15,000 to $150,000, and probation after he is released.
Skiff is represented by defense attorney Brian Leedy of Ridley McGreevy Winocur in Denver. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Sonia Dave.