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Friends In Low Places

Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Our willingness to brush aside moral scruples for the sake of helping our close friends lies at the heart of the old adage that a friend will help you move house, but a good friend will help you move a body. Needless to say, that piece of wisdom is not to be taken literally. While being a good friend can require acting contrary to virtue’s demands, it doesn’t oblige you to help your friends to commit any crime at all! Which Donte Clements didn’t understand.

Clements had a friend, Kaila Leaann Shanteau-Jackson, who held the position of Pre-Paid Claims Initiation Agent for a financial institution that serviced the Unemployed Insurance benefit program in Arizona. Shanteau-Jackson had access to the financial institution’s Pre-Paid Administration System (PAS) and was responsible for mailing UI benefits to qualified recipients in the form of pre-paid debit cards. While sending out all those government supplement benefits to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jackson got to thinking. What about me and my friends?

Shanteau-Jackson used her employment credentials to divert and re-route UI benefits payments intended for 138 victims to herself and Clements. To trigger the scheme, Jackson changed in the PAS database the rightful recipients’ address information to addresses in Charlotte to which Clements had access. Once Clements received the re-routed pre-paid debit cards, he either withdrew the benefits in cash from ATMs or went on a spending spree with the stolen funds. Clements and Jackson successfully diverted approximately $993,000 in UI benefits to themselves.

Clements pleaded guilty to wire fraud for this COVID-19 fraud scheme. He will spend the next ten years in prison.

Outstanding job by the COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force in this case.

Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “Suspects Made $1 Million From Fraud COVID-19 Unemployment Payments” published by Charlotte Alerts on January 8, 2023

Donte Clements, 35, and Kaila Leaann Shanteau-Jackson, 32, scammed the unemployment system to get $993,081 for themselves. In January 2024 Donte was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Charlotte, NC. The 2 suspects were involved in a COVID-19 fraud scheme that amassed nearly $1 million.

From June 2020 to September 2021, Donte conspired with Kaila to defraud the U.S. Department of Labor and the State of Arizona, by fraudulently receiving and cashing COVID-19 unemployment insurance payments diverted to Donte by Kalia. During the relevant time period, Kalia was employed as a vendor contractor and held the position of ‘Pre-Paid Claims Initiation Agent’ for a financial institution that serviced the unemployment benefit program in Arizona.

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