When Joe Walsh wrote the song, “Life’s Been Good,” he said his Maserati did 185. We’re not positive if Jamie Johnson’s Maserati could go that fast, but one thing is for sure, she used hers to drive around to Capital Region area banks in Albany, N.Y., withdrawing cash and using debit cards tied to more than $700,000 in stolen unemployment benefits.
The 36-year-old filed false applications for unemployment benefits under various stolen identities and consequently garnered $701,441 in benefits from the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL). As COVID-19 raged on in 2020 and 2021, Johnson used the pandemic to undermine the integrity of the unemployment insurance program.
Johnson admitted to using personal information received from others to submit false applications for unemployment benefits. What did these benefits fund, you ask? Jewelry, her Maserati sport utility vehicle, and $200,000 in cold, hard cash.
A collaboration between multiple agencies resulted in Johnson’s downfall. She pled guilty to conspiring to commit fraud, aggravated identity theft, and filing false unemployment insurance applications online with the NYSDOL.
When sentenced on June 22, 2022, Johnson faces a maximum of 20 years behind bars for mail fraud, $250,000 in fines, and three years of supervised release. She could receive another two years in prison for committing aggravated identity theft, to be imposed consecutive to any other prison terms. Johnson will also pay $701,441 in restitution. It appears that life was good to Jamie Johnson for a while, despite her illegal acts. But as you know, all good things (or illegal things, in this case) eventually come to an end. (As the scene fades and the lights go dim, we can see Johnson taking her last joyride in a paddy wagon to prison. The End.)
Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Albany Woman Pleads Guilty to Unemployment Insurance Fraud,” dated February 16, 2022.
ALBANY, NEW YORK – Jamie Johnson, age 36, of Albany, pled guilty today to conspiring to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. Johnson admitted to filing false unemployment insurance applications online with the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) in order to fraudulently obtain $701,441 in benefits issued in the names of other people.
The announcement was made by United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman; New York State Inspector General Lucy Lang; Matthew Scarpino, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Ketty Larco-Ward, Inspector in Charge of the Boston Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS); and Jonathan Mellone, Special Agent in Charge, New York Region, United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General (USDOL-OIG).