Two San Diego residents have been sentenced for their role in a scheme to use prison inmates’ personal information to fraudulently obtain unemployment benefits. Ryan Kubista and Maereichelle Marquez, both pleaded guilty to felony charges for making false statements on an unemployment application. (This type of unemployment fraud is popular, but fraudsters seem to forget that there are ways to cross check with prison databases to see if unemployment benefit applicants are incarcerated.)
According to prosecutors, the two Californians, along with another co-defendant, Stacy Wright, 62, allegedly used at least 64 inmates’ identities to apply for the benefits. (Why not add in identity theft into the mix to get into more trouble? They probably didn’t think about how mad those 64 inmates might be after they learned their identities were used to commit more crime.)
After applying for and being approved for the benefits, the fraudsters had the California Employment Development Department (EDD) benefits and EDD Bank of America debit cards mailed to their homes or P.O. boxes in Escondido, Carlsbad and Vista. (They probably thought they could continue to collect these undeserved benefits while remaining undetected. They could not have been more wrong.)
The defendants received more than $1.3 million in illegal payments, but a restitution hearing will determine the exact loss. Kubista was sentenced to a five-year prison term, Marquez received a prison sentence of six years and four months, and Wright remains charged, with a preliminary hearing set.
This case is one of numerous others across California related to accusations of prison inmates and others defrauding the state unemployment benefit system amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, a former Employment Development Department (EDD) contract employee Nyika Gomez was also sentenced to 25 months in prison for conspiring with her inmate boyfriend to submit fraudulent pandemic unemployment insurance claims for California state prisoners and out-of-state residents whose identifying information was stolen. (Conspiring with your felonious boyfriend doesn’t sound like the best life choice.)
Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Two Sentenced for Unemployment Benefits Fraud Using 64 Inmates’ Identities,” published by Times of San Diego on November 1, 2021.
A man and woman who took part in a scheme to use prison inmates’ personal information to fraudulently obtain unemployment benefits were sentenced Monday to state prison terms.
Ryan Kubista and Maereichelle Marquez, both 34, pleaded guilty last month to felony charges of making false statements on an unemployment application, about six months after the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced charges against them