COVID Feature: Busy Year for Fraud

Unemployment claim form on an office table.

The Department of Justice has been quite busy since COVID-19 turned the world upside a year ago. The pandemic that has plagued the world has also spurred many opportunities for fraud, especially in the area of unemployment. Today’s fraudster is Dennis George Chinn of Le Mars, Ia. He is in a bit of trouble for lying about his income.

When applying to receive unemployment benefits due to COVID-19, Chinn claimed that his weekly income was $150. This lie qualified him to receive an additional $600 per week from the government. (Did he really think that no one would check?)

As a result, Chinn received $13,000 that he was not entitled to. (But his lies eventually caught up with him as they usually do.) 

In a plea agreement, the Iowan confessed to falsely reporting his income and fraudulently obtaining unemployment benefits related to COVID-19 relief funds he did not deserve.

The 55-year-old was sentenced to three months in prison for committing unemployment fraud. He’ll be heading to jail for three months, then two years of supervised release. Chinn will also pay restitution of $12,231. (That will go back in the pot to help those who are unemployed and honest.)

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Le Mars man sentenced for COVID-19 related unemployment fraud,” published by Siouxland Proud on January 21, 2021.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – A Le Mars man has been sentenced for underreporting his income to receive COVID-19 unemployment funds.

Dennis George Chinn, 55, was sentenced Tuesday to three months in federal prison. The sentence came after he pleaded guilty to theft of government funds on September 25, 2020.


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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.