Woman Sentenced to Federal Prison for Taking Benefits Intended for Dead Mother

Edward J. Schwartz building
Edward J. Schwartz federal office building in downtown San Diego. Photo via casd.uscourts.gov

An American woman living in Tijuana was sentenced in federal court Monday to a year and a day in prison after she was convicted of taking more than $268,000 in retirement benefits intended for her dead mother.

Kimberly Kay Brandt, a 51-year-old United States citizen living in Mexico, hid her mother’s death from the Social Security Administration for 13 years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors say Brandt’s mother moved from her home in California to live with Brandt in Tijuana when her health began to decline.

Brandt’s mother died in Mexico in June 2010, but instead of notifying the Social Security Administration at that time, Brandt impersonated her mother in a call to her mother’s bank in order to request a new card and update her address.

Prosecutors said that Brandt also pretended to be her mother on a separate, later occasion, when she called the bank to ask about missing payments after the SSA learned of her mother’s death and halted them. She was arrested three weeks after the benefits ceased in late June 2023, as she attempted to cross into the U.S. from Mexico.

Brandt pleaded guilty to social security fraud less than two months later. She was also ordered to pay $268,143 in restitution to the Social Security Administration.