Seattle Woman Who Defrauded Three Public Assistance Programs of more than $320,000 Sentenced in Federal Court

Date Published: 
January 23, 2018
News Type: 
Press Releases
Program Area(s): 
Public and Indian Housing

A Seattle woman who defrauded programs aimed at assisting the neediest in our community was sentenced today in federal court to three years of probation, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  DEKA HIRSI, 39, lied to obtain subsidized housing from the Seattle Housing Authority, falsely claimed that her only employment was working all night caring for her elderly parents, and claimed benefits for overnight daycare stays for her five children.  In reality, HIRSI was running a small grocery store during the day, did not provide the nightly care for her parents, and her children lived in her parents’ home and did not receive daycare services.  U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik ordered HIRSI to pay $328,509 in restitution calling it “among the most serious frauds I have ever seen.”  The judge stopped short of imposing the prison sentence requested by prosecutors saying HIRSI suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) based on childhood trauma in Somalia.  Of the fraud Judge Lasnik said “It’s wrong, it hurts people…. I want this to be a wake-up call for the community to not look the other way when you see something wrong.”

            According to records filed in the case, in 2010 the Seattle Housing Authority received a complaint that HIRSI was defrauding the Section 8 program for the needy. HIRSI falsely claimed she was a single parent of five children.  In fact, her husband lived with the family and was employed as a taxi driver.  Investigators discovered the fraud did not stop there...