In the movie “Shawshank Redemption” the lead character, a prisoner named Andy famously says “He’s got scams you haven’t even dreamed of. Kickbacks on his kickbacks. There’s a river of dirty money running through this place.” That is what you could say about real life prisoner, Kenneth Ray Hawkins. Hawkins, while an inmate at the state-run Deuel Vocational Institution in California, pleaded guilty on August 1, 2022 to a unemployment insurance scheme that netted him almost $1 million.
From the comfort of his jail cell at DVI, Hawkins collected personal identifiable information, including the names and Social Security numbers, of California prison inmates and other individuals and used the identities and an unauthorized cell phone to submit dozens of fraudulent claims between June 2020 and January 2021 seeking Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits.
Each claim filed by Hawkins, stated that the claimants had recently lost employment from businesses or were unable to find employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fun fact, the incarcerated don’t get to work while they are in jail. There are no job opportunities behind bars. Furthermore, it is against the law to file for unemployment benefits!
In the applications, Hawkins requested that the benefits be mailed to various California and Nevada addresses that were under the control of one or more co-conspirators. EDD approved at least 60 of the fraudulent claims and authorized Bank of America to mail out EDD debit cards containing benefits. The scheme sought over $1 million and resulted in EDD paying out over $890,000.
Great job by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in the investigation of this case.
Hawkins is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 24, 2022, which will take into consideration his incompleted time at DVI.
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article posted in the Victorville Daily Press on August 2, 2022
Former inmate pleads guilty to $1 million fraud scheme that involved Barstow residents
Rene Ray De La Cruz
The Department of Justice announced that a former inmate pleaded guilty to participating in a $1 million unemployment insurance benefits fraud scheme that involved several Barstow residents.
Kenneth Ray Hawkins, 47, formerly an inmate at the Deuel Vocational Institution, a California state prison in Tracy, pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiring to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.