Florida Man Pleads Guilty To Defrauding Unemployment And Coronavirus Relief
A Florida man has pleaded guilty to defrauding the unemployment system under The CARES Act which was signed to help Americans during the pandemic shutdown. Americans who were unemployed were able to use federal funds to make claims on their state’s unemployment. Those who qualified were able to have their income supplemented while they were out of work. Of course, the system was ripe for fraud.
While it’s easy to defraud the unemployment system, the federal government will eventually catch up with you. It may take two years of gathering evidence, tracking down suspicious applications, and then building the case against a specific individual or team of individuals, but if the applications are suspicious, the federal government will investigate them.
In this case, the defendant used stolen identities to file false claims. The money was disbursed to addresses under his control using prepaid debit cards. In one case, the defendant used a prepaid debit card to purchase a $2,000 laptop. The transaction was flagged as potentially fraudulent, and the defendant was stopped by police officers.
What happened when police questioned the defendant?
As you might imagine, the conversation did not go well for the defendant. The police asked him to produce a receipt, which he said he lost. Eventually, he provided them with the receipt and a card. They noted that the number on the card did not match the number on the receipt. The defendant said he must have lost the card. The officers arrested the defendant and recovered the card on the defendant’s person.
A search of his vehicle uncovered multiple debit cards issued in names other than the defendant’s. In a hotel room, police recovered 13 more debit cards with random names. They used surveillance to prove where the defendant used the debit cards. On the defendant’s cellphone, they found detailed information concerning names and addresses on the fraudulently issued cards. They found internet searches and IP information relating to unemployment fraud. They later tracked the cards back to the applications. And there you have the state’s entire case against this particular defendant.
The defendant would face a maximum of 20 years on conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Additional charges would be pending allegations of aggravated identity theft. The defendant would face at minimum two years behind bars with that sentence served consecutively to any sentence for identity theft. In other words, the two sentences would be added together. The issue is made worse because the fraud was committed against a disaster relief program.
The defendant stole an estimated $175,000 in unemployment funds. Whatever assets he purchased will be seized and liquidated to repay the federal government.
Talk to a Florida Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Today
The Matassini Law Firm represents the interests of those facing federal charges. Call our Tampa criminal lawyers today to discuss your situation in more detail and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.