More than 1,000 people have been charged in schemes to fraudulently obtain unemployment benefits since the pandemic, according to a 2022 report by the Office of the Inspector General. Well nine more could be added to this total, sooner than later. No time will be wasted looking for these fraudsters because the judicial system already knows where they are. Sitting in prison for previous convictions unrelated to fraud.
According to the indictment, between March 2020 and December 2020, the inmates orchestrated a scheme to fraudulently obtain COVID-19 unemployment benefits through the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce and seven other states. The defendants conspired with other inmates, friends, and relatives to submit unemployment claims to SCDEW using the personal information of inmates and individuals outside of the prison system. Some provided their personal information willingly in exchange for a portion of the proceeds. However, some did not. But fraudsters have special ways to make the unwilling willing.
That special way was by extortion. In a scheme known as “Johning,” the SCDC inmates used contraband cellphones to pose as younger men or women and lure individuals into sending them nude or compromising photos. Once the inmates had the images, they would contact the victim posing as law enforcement and extorted them to send them money and pictures of their social security cards and driver’s licenses. Wisdom doesn’t need to be earned. Don’t give out nude photos or personal identifications! In total, the inmates fraudulently received almost $5 million in government checks and prepaid debit cards.
Shout out to the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force.
Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “9 SCDC inmates, 6 others charged in nearly $5M fraud scheme; contraband phones within corrections system used for ‘Johning’” published by the Sumter Item on July 22, 2023
A federal grand jury has returned a 51-count indictment against nine current or former inmates in the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) and six other individuals who were either friends or relatives of the inmates for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The indictment alleges that, beginning in March 2020 and continuing through December 2020, nine SCDC inmates engaged in a scheme to fraudulently obtain various COVID-19 unemployment benefits administered through the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) and through Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada, New Jersey, Missouri, Arizona and California.