A former employee of the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) pleaded guilty to fraud and identity theft charges arising from her claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) funds. (It’s hard not to acknowledge the irony.)
Tiffany Pacheco, 35, formerly of New Bedford, pleaded guilty to six counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. She was indicted in January 2021 along with her husband, Arthur Pacheco, who pleaded guilty in July.
Tiffany Pacheco was hired by the DUA in April 2020, shortly after her release from federal prison following a conviction for aggravated identity theft. While employed by DUA, Tiffany Pacheco misused her position to submit fraudulent PUA claim information on behalf of herself and Arthur Pacheco. (So much for having been rehabilitated after her stint in prison.)
At the time of the fraudulent claims, Arthur Pacheco was incarcerated in Texas and was ineligible for PUA funds. Specifically, in June 2020, PUA claims submitted for Tiffany Pacheco and her husband reflected 2019 income of $0 and no dependents.
In July 2020, Tiffany Pacheco abused her position with PUA and obtained access to the agency’s computer system. She changed claim information for herself and her husband in order to increase the amount of PUA funds they would receive.
Tiffany increased the amount of 2019 income for herself and Arthur Pacheco to more than $240,000. She also increased the number of dependents to seven. (Where did they get the instant family?) Tiffany further used her access to the PUA system to verify the increased income on both claims without the required verification documents. (Meanwhile, there were suffering individuals who desperately needed assistance.)
In November 2020, Arthur Pacheco called DUA and denied that he had been incarcerated during the timeframe leading up to September 2020 and that he was only incarcerated for approximately one month. Tiffany Pacheco also spoke with DUA and misrepresented the period of time in which Arthur Pacheco had been incarcerated. (Nothing this couple said on their applications was the least bit accurate.)
A search of the New Bedford apartment where Tiffany and Arthur Pacheco resided uncovered various tools of identity fraud, including an ID laminator, 100 blank ID cards, 68 hologram overlays, 150 card lamination sheets and 649 sheets of blank checks.
Law enforcement seized approximately $17,000 cash and a notebook that appeared to contain the personal identifying information of various individuals. In addition, a driver’s license recovered during the search matched the name of a victim Tiffany Pacheco used to submit another fraudulent PUA claim. On Sept. 23, 2020, DUA terminated Tiffany Pacheco’s employment. (I’d say they definitely had just cause for termination.)
The charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a sentence of up to two years in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
Sentencing is scheduled for Arthur for Nov. 18, 2021 and for Tiffany on Jan. 12, 2022.
Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Former Department of Unemployment Assistance Employee Pleads Guilty to Fraud and Identity Theft Charges Related to COVID-19 Pandemic,” published on August 30, 2021.
BOSTON – A former employee of the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) pleaded guilty today to fraud and identity theft charges arising from her claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) funds.
Tiffany Pacheco, a/k/a Tiffany Tavery, 35, formerly of New Bedford, pleaded guilty to six counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani scheduled sentencing for Jan. 12, 2022. She was indicted in January 2021 along with her husband, Arthur Pacheco, who pleaded guilty in July 2021 and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 18, 2021.