An Olalla man is suspected of fraudulently collecting more than $400,000 of his brother’s Social Security disability benefits, after his brother went missing while traveling to Clark County more than 30 years ago.
Chris H. Sayler, 72, was arrested on suspicion of aggravated identity theft and access device fraud, according to a Department of Justice news release. Sayler has allegedly been collecting his brother’s, Jarvis L. Sayler, Social Security benefits since at least 1998. He made a first appearance Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma and is detained pending another hearing Friday.
Jarvis Sayler traveled from his home in Missouri to Clark County in 1988, telling relatives he planned to visit Chris Sayler, according to the news release. He wrote letters to Missouri between June and September of that year but wasn’t heard from again before another brother reported him missing in March 1989.
When the Clark County Sheriff’s Office interviewed Chris Sayler about his brother’s whereabouts, he claimed Jarvis Sayler left his home after an argument, according to the news release. That was reportedly the last time anyone saw Jarvis Sayler.
Jarvis Sayler was born with partial eyesight and had been receiving Social Security disability benefits since 1977, according to the news release.
In 2013, when a person claiming to be Jarvis Sayler attempted to renew his Washington identification, the renewal was denied after facial recognition software matched the photo with Chris Sayler’s driver’s license. Chris Sayler claimed they were twins, despite the fact that they were born four years apart, according to the news release. He added that it was a “rare twin situation,” the Department of Justice said.
The state Department of Licensing referred the matter to the Social Security Office of Inspector General earlier this year. Investigators discovered that, as early as 1998, Chris Sayler’s photo has appeared on Jarvis Sayler’s identification card. Since then, Jarvis Sayler’s Social Security benefits went to a bank account opened with an address in Vancouver, the news release says.
After Chris Sayler moved to Olalla, ATM withdrawal and debit card records from retailers such as Costco and Fred Meyer show he withdrew money and made purchases using Jarvis Sayler’s account, according to the news release.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Diggs with the Social Security Administration is prosecuting the case. Access device fraud carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence, and aggravated identity theft has a mandatory minimum two-year sentence.
Anyone with information on Jarvis Sayler’s disappearance can contact Clark County sheriff’s Detective Jon Shields at 564-397-2120.