Four Indicted for Fraudulently Obtaining Benefits

Four Indicted for Fraudulently Obtaining Benefits

Four Individuals Indicted for Fraudulently Obtaining Pandemic Unemployment Benefits for Virginia Prison Inmates

NORFOLK, VA (STL.News) A federal grand jury returned an indictment yesterday charging four individuals with allegedly participating in a conspiracy to use the personal identifying information of 35 Virginia prison inmates in order to fraudulently obtain over $300,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits.

“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants deliberately stole funds intended for members of our community who have faced financial hardship and unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.  “EDVA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to safeguard these critical taxpayer-funded resources and hold accountable those who unlawfully line their pockets at the expense of the American people.”

According to the indictment, Mary Benton, 38, of Portsmouth, and Angelica Cartwright-Powers, 35, of Norfolk, allegedly worked with two inmates at Virginia correctional institutions to collect the personally identifiable information of other inmates to fraudulently apply for Virginia unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Benton allegedly submitted successful applications for Virginia unemployment benefits for 31 inmates across three Virginia correctional facilities.  Cartwright-Powers allegedly submitted successful applications for four inmates at one correctional facility.

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