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In Florida, a man recently pleaded guilty to posing as his twin brother in order to obtain tens of thousands of dollars in Veterans Affairs benefits meant for military veterans, like his sibling.

Wayne Bowen, 64, of Jacksonville, pleaded guilty on Jan. 26 to one count of aggravated identity theft in a Jacksonville federal court. He faces a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, and must also pay back the $63,733 he received from various government agencies. 

According to the plea agreement, Bowen’s double life began in 2014, when he used the name, Social Security card, and military discharge papers of his estranged twin brother to apply for federally subsidized housing benefits. The program, administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), was meant to help provide housing subsidies for indigent military veterans. Wayne Bowen, however, had never served in the military and therefore was ineligible for any of the programs he had applied for. 

When first questioned by officials from HUD in 2017 while living at his subsidized apartment in Jacksonville, Bowen told investigators that he and his twin brother had both enlisted in the U.S. Army at the same time, but had been stationed at different bases. 

Bowen later relented and admitted to investigators that he had been using his assumed identity to obtain housing and medical benefits. He had also used his brother’s identity to obtain a Florida identification card and had been convicted of felony offenses under the assumed name.

In all, Bowen fraudulently obtained $32,434 in medical benefits from the VA, $18,905 in housing subsidies from HUD and $12,434 in nutritional benefits from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Bowen was indicted in 2019, but evaded arrest until August, 2021. When arrested, Bowen was in possession of a second Florida ID card in his brother’s name, obtained after his indictment. He had also used his assumed identity to apply for state nutritional benefits just six weeks prior. 

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