The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act helps provide emergency financial assistance, including expanded unemployment insurance (UI) benefits to people suffering from the economic struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic. Joseph Ransome, 51, of Indian Trail, N.C., filed for and received unemployment benefits, claiming that he was laid off from Walmart due to the pandemic. (That wasn’t exactly the case. If it were, you wouldn’t be reading about it.)
Upon further investigation, it was discovered that Ransome was not fired because of the COVID-19 virus, he was actually asked to leave his place of work due to misconduct. (Ah, the plot thickens.)
Ransome also claimed that he worked at companies such as Target, BestBuy, Lowe’s, and Hobby Lobby. Apparently, he was let go because he either tested positive for COVID-19 or was laid off due to lack of work. (You’ll be interested to know that Ransome was never employed at any of these stores.)
In total, Ransome applied for more than $150,000 in CARES ACT UI benefits. Fortunately, authorities were able to stop his UI scam. Ransome pleaded guilty to wire fraud. He faces up to 30 years in prison and must pay a $1 million fine.
If you think you are a victim of COVID-19 fraud or have information pertaining to fraud involving COVID-19, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721or submit a complaint online using the NCDF Web Complaint Form.
Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Indian Trail Man Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud For Scheme To Defraud COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Benefit Program,” dated January 29, 2021.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Joseph Ransome, 51, of Indian Trail, N.C., pleaded guilty to wire fraud today, for defrauding the COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit program, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Robert R. Wells, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Tommy D. Coke, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which oversees Charlotte, join U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.