3 Inland Empire Women Arrested on Charges of Illegally Obtaining COVID-Related Unemployment Benefits in Names of Prison Inmates
RIVERSIDE, CA (STL.News) Federal authorities this week arrested three Inland Empire residents on fraud charges alleging they used information belonging to California state prison inmates to file for pandemic-related unemployment benefits, with each causing at least $345,000 in losses.
The three defendants are charged in separate criminal complaints, and each woman faces two counts – fraud in connection with emergency benefits and wire fraud.
With the three cases announced today, prosecutors in the Central District of California have now charged a dozen defendants with fraudulently obtaining enhanced unemployment benefits implemented during the pandemic. The defendants arrested this week are the latest of approximately 150 defendants who have been charged across the United States in what the Justice Department calls an unprecedented explosion of unemployment insurance (UI) fraud over the past year. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress and signed into law in March 2020 provided additional UI benefits to qualified individuals and helped provide unemployment insurance benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic to people who did not otherwise qualify, including business owners, self-employed workers, independent contractors, and those with a limited work history.