2005/02/05

Give Social Security Number, Go To Jail

The following clause has been prosecuted against individuals by U.S. government agents. It is allegedly authorized by the Commerce Clause, extended not only to all economic activity, even intrastate, but to all activity whatsoever, even noneconomic:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode42/usc_sec_42_00000408----000-.html


TITLE 42 > CHAPTER 7 > SUBCHAPTER II > § 408

§ 408. Penalties

Release date: 2003-07-24

(a) In general Whoever —

...

(7) for the purpose of causing an increase in any payment authorized under this subchapter (or any other program financed in whole or in part from Federal funds), or for the purpose of causing a payment under this subchapter (or any such other program) to be made when no payment is authorized thereunder, or for the purpose of obtaining (for himself or any other person) any payment or any other benefit to which he (or such other person) is not entitled, or for the purpose of obtaining anything of value from any person, or for any other purpose.

...

(B) with intent to deceive, falsely represents a number to be the social security account number assigned by the Commissioner of Social Security to him or to another person, when in fact such number is not the social security account number assigned by the Commissioner of Social Security to him or to such other person; or

...

shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both.

______

Note that this is not confined to providing a social security number to a federal agent or agency, or on a federal form or document. It also applies to private transactions, such as opening a bank account, applying for a loan, leasing an apartment, or applying for a job. It is not limited to the individual whose social security number is entered. Anyone involved in the recordation of the SSN may also be prosecuted.

There is reason to suspect several such prosecutions have been done by altering the records of use of social security numbers, or some anonymous off-shore data entry clerk mistyping the number into a computer, to make it appear a false number was used. Since this can easily be done by anyone with access to the records, we must issue this warning:

NEVER give or disclose a social security number to anyone for any purpose whatsoever, unless they can and will effectively guarantee, in writing, secured by a large bond, that any records of the use of the number will be kept secure from all persons who might have the capability to physically alter them to change the number, for the remainder of your life. Furthermore, you must be able to make and keep your own copy of any such records in a secure location, backed by a video tape of the complete transaction, with all records verified by a notary, and affidavits of at least two independent witnesses to the complete transaction and the social security number you provide.

In principle it might be safe to provide a social security number just long enough to verify the records of the correspondent, if no record is made of the number provided, but this should only be done if one can be sure no record is made.

One might think, wrongly, that it would be a defense against criminal conviction that there is no evidence the defendant personally provided the incorrect number. However, apparently courts are holding that if the number is found to be incorrect, regardless of who made the error, the defendant is presumed to have done it. Now, one might think at least a jury would refuse to convict without such evidence, but since it is a matter of interpreting a record, the judge may, and likely will, find that there is no issue of fact and deny the defendant a jury trial. 

This is not a small matter. Convicting innocent persons on false evidence is suspected in several cases. Anyone having information about any such prosecutions is asked to contact the author of this article.

For more on why this code is unconstitutional see http://www.constitution.org/col/02729_fed-usurp.htm

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