48-year-old woman spends two years posing as her 22-year-old daughter

‘Everybody believed it – She even had boyfriends that believed that she was that age,’ police chief says

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A 48-year-old woman has pleaded guilty to charges of fraud after she spent two years living as her estranged 22-year-old daughter and using the stolen identity to enroll in university, take out student loans, and get a driver’s license.

In 2016, Laura Oglesby applied for a social security card in the name of her daughter, Lauren Ashleigh Hays, who was 22 years old at the time.

Residents in Mountain View, Missouri believed that Oglesby was in fact 22. She had a job at the city library and she dated men who thought she was more than two decades younger than she really was.

After reportedly embezzling more than $25,000, Oglesby is now facing up to five years in prison without parole for social security fraud.

“Everybody believed it,” Mountain View Police Chief Jamie Perkins told The New York Times. “She even had boyfriends that believed that she was that age – 22 years old.”

The US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri said in a statement that Oglesby pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of intentionally providing false information to the Social Security Administration.

Under the plea agreement, Oglesby must also pay $17,521 in restitution to Southwest Baptist University and to Ms Hays. Oglesby received $9,400 in federal student loans, $5,920 in Pell Grants, $337 for books she bought at the university bookstore, as well as $1,863 in finance charges.

Professor of criminology and criminal justice at Northeastern University, Nikos Passas, told The New York Times that Social Security fraud and identity theft can be “very, very common”.

More than 270,000 allegations of Social Security fraud were made between 1 April and 30 September, 167,000 of which were believed to be impostor schemes, a federal report has noted.

Some parents have applied for loans using their children’s names without them knowing.

Oglesby admitted to applying for a Social Security card in January 2016, using it to also apply for a driver’s license. In 2017, she used the Social Security information to enroll at Southwest Baptist University and to get financial aid to attend.

In August 2018, Mountain View Police were contacted by Arkansas authorities, who said they were looking for Oglesby, adding that she had stolen Ms Hays’ identity in the state the previous year. Arkansas law enforcement told Missouri police that they thought Oglesby had been living in Mountain View, about 40 miles (64 km) north of the state border, using a fake identity.

When Mountain View police investigated the matter, they found that Oglesby had a job at the city library.

“She actually was employed here, which was kind of odd,” Chief Perkins told The New York Times. “And that’s how we figured out who she was.”

Police pulled her over during a traffic stop and at first, she denied that she was Laura Oglesby, but admitted to it when police showed her proof.

“She was just running because she was in a domestic violence relationship, and she’d been running for years,” the chief said Oglesby told police. “We don’t know her life story outside of what she told us, but we know what happened here.”

Oglesby was arrested on bench warrants from Arkansas, with her case in Missouri now involving federal crimes in both states.

“She had lived that life for a couple of years and basically just ruined her daughter’s credit,” Chief Perkins told the paper.

Southwest Baptist University said in a statement that they “cooperated fully with the investigation”.

“We were saddened to learn about the situation,” they added. “Our prayers are with all involved.”

The Independent has reached out to lawyers representing Oglesby for comment.

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