Feds: Philly Social Worker Sold IDs of Foster Kids to Tax Prep Company

“Truly despicable,” says the U.S. Attorney.

social-worker-charged-selling-foster-kids-identities

Gebah Kamara was a social worker for Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia until late 2011, handling the cases of foster children referred to CSS by the Department of Human Services. Conveniently, Kamara had access to the children’s names, birth dates and Social Security numbers, and, according to an indictment just unsealed by the U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia (see below), he allegedly sold that information to a tax preparation business, which in turn used the children as false dependents on clients’ income tax returns.

Kamara, seen here in the profile photo for his deleted Twitter account, has been charged with conspiracy and aggravated identity theft, among other charges. Also charged were Ahmed Kamara, Musa Turay, Ibrahim Kamara, Dauda Koroma and Foday Mansaray, all of whom worked as tax preparers at Medmans Financial Services near 65th Street and Chester Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia. A person answering the phone at Medmans on Friday morning declined to comment.


The U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia has also unsealed a completely different indictment alleging a similar scheme surrounding Momolu Sirleaf, the owner of I.E.S. Tax Services in Darby. According to that indictment, Sirleaf charged clients approximately $800 to include false dependents on their income tax returns, using the identities and Social Security numbers of foster children on those returns. The phone number for I.E.S. has been disconnected.

"The allegations in these indictments depict a disturbing practice of exploiting some of the most vulnerable members of our community," said U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger in a statement. "The conduct in these cases … is truly despicable, and those who are responsible must be brought to justice."

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  • nissi-n-philli

    Sounds to me, like his ID, is ready to be sold, to the men in prison……….. don’t drop the soap!

  • Rocco Lamagela

    Upstanding citizens…those people!

  • NASW-PA

    Please note that Gebah Kamara is NOT a social worker. He has degrees in criminal justice. This is a violation of social work title protection and we hope this version will be retracted.

    • http://www.phillymag.com/ Philadelphia Magazine

      Gebah Kamara is identified as a social worker in the federal indictment referenced in the story. We have provided a link above.

  • Jason Finau

    Under Section 1 of the Title Protection: Act 68 of 2008: “Social worker.” A person who holds a current license under this act or has received a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited school or program of social work or social welfare.
    With that said, PLEASE change the title of this article to reflect Gebah Kamara’s ACTUAL work title at Cathloic Social Services. Referring to him as a Social Worker when he is not one reflects poorly on Social Workers as a profession and as members of the community. As a Social Worker myself, I am offended that you would include Mr. Kamara in a professional and respectful group of peers who work tirelessly and tremedously hard to make this world a better place (often times with very limited means). I urge you again to please change the title of this article and refer to Mr. Kamara by the working title he possessed while employed at Catholic Social Service. Thank you.

    • http://www.phillymag.com/ Philadelphia Magazine

      Gebah Kamara was identified as a social worker in the federal indictment in question, which we have provided a link to above.

      • Jason Finau

        I understand that he was listed as a Social Worker in the federal indictment. However, as a reporter, I expect you to verify your information before reiterating it to the general public. As a Social Worker, we hold a professional license in the state of Pennsylvania. A search to verify one’s professional license status is made fairly simple on the PA State website (http://www.licensepa.state.pa.us/). A quick look will show that Mr. Kamara is not a licensed Social Worker in the state of PA. He is not allowed to call himself a Social Worker nor should anyone refer to him as a Social Worker.
        I may not be able to get the federal indictment language changed but I am hopeful that I will persuade Philadelphia Magazine to help me and my fellow Social Workers here in Philadelphia fight the negative stigma associated with our profession.

        • http://www.phillymag.com/ Philadelphia Magazine

          With respect, you’re making an unwarranted leap from “He is not allowed to call himself a Social Worker” — which is true only since September 2008 in Pennsylvania, and not true in every state — to “nor should anyone refer to him as a Social Worker” — which prohibition is, of course, nowhere to be found in the “Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors Act.”

          As a practical matter, how should we refer to someone who practices what has long been commonly referred to as social work without being a “social worker” as legally defined in Pennsylvania — especially someone who, like Kamara, did have that job title before September 2008?

          • Kate Forest

            Generally, people who work in the human services field but have no credential, are called “paraprofessionals.”

          • Jason Finau

            I understand where you are coming from. In regards to how people with no degree/license in Social Work who work in the field of Social Services providing direct care to clients should be referred to, the most common term to date is Case Manager or Case Worker. That would have been Mr. Kamara’s appropriate title at Catholic Social Services if the Social Work Profession had it’s protected profession status prior to 2008 here in the State of PA.

            When I stated that no one should refer to him as a Social Worker, I said that as someone who is very protective of his profession. I would never call someone a Doctor/Lawyer/Dentist/etc. if they did not have the proper credentials. The only difference here is that Doctors and Lawyers and Dentists have had that professional protection for a very long time where as Social Workers have only had it since 2008 here in the State of PA.

            I know that other news outlets have also referred to Mr. Kamara as a “former Social Worker” and that is equally troubling to hear. I don’t want to sound as though I am picking on you. I truly appreciate this dialogue as I think it sheds a light on a topic that is rarely discussed in public. Thank you so much for responding to my comments. It’s nice to know that PhillyMag actually listens to it’s readers and cares about what we have to say.

          • Jenny Broz

            At my agency, they are referred to as Social Service Advocates. Just because the feds don’t know about social work title protection doesn’t mean you get to feign ignorance, PhillyMag.

  • 1 PA LCSW

    I hope the paper will publicly retract it’s identifying Gebah Kamara as a social worker.

    Next time, before you identify someone as a Social Worker, be sure to do the work of identifying the person’s license.