A grand jury has indicted three California residents in what the Justice Department called a scheme to steal $ 1.4 million in fraudulent unemployment benefits from taxpayers. But two of the suspects were already behind bars, allegedly behind the scam from prison.
Federal officials said inmates Daryol Richmond, 30, and Telvin Breaux, 29, worked from their respective correctional facilities at Kern Valley State Prison and the California Correctional Institute in coordination with Los resident Holly White. Angeles, for submitting bogus unemployment claims on behalf of other inmates. All three were charged with conspiracy to commit postal fraud and aggravated identity theft.
The allegedly unemployed inmates were in fact working as clothing merchants, handymen and other jobs, and were available for work, according to court documents. In order to avoid detection, the suspected crooks created fake email accounts and used different physical addresses in Southern California. In some cases, officials said they even paid family members and other associates up to $ 1,000 to use their physical addresses.
The Department of Employment Development and the United States have lost more than $ 270,000 because of the program, officials said.
If found guilty, each accused could face more than 20 years in prison and fines of up to $ 250,000.
CALIFORNIA UNEMPLOYMENT FRAUD CLAIMS IN 2020 COULD RUN AT $ 31 BILLION
The trio are the latest unemployment fraud-related arrest from The Golden State, where officials estimated EDD distributed fraudulent claims totaling between $ 11.4 billion and over $ 31 billion after the State has made it easier to obtain benefits in response to the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.
GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE
Earlier this year, three Californian women were arrested and charged with allegedly stealing more than $ 1.2 million in state unemployment benefits. They too are accused of using the identities of Californian inmates to defraud the government program and have obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars each in the form of false statements.