Couple by Day, Fraudsters by Night

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Unemployment claim form on an office table.

Gregory Marcus Tackett, 28, of Pound, Va., was sentenced for fraudulently filing for more than $499,000 in unemployment benefits he was not entitled to. (Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has offered ample opportunity for unscrupulous individuals to jump into the fraud game.)

Tackett admitted to conspiring with others to fraudulently collect Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program benefits. One of these fraudsters was Tackett’s girlfriend, Leelynn Danielle Chytka. (Perhaps they aspired to be like Bonnie and Clyde, although this couple decided to rob the government, not banks. Less likely to be killed in fraudulent action so to speak.)

The couple and their other fraudster friends plotted to obtain the identification information of more than 35 others and file claims for pandemic related unemployment benefits. (Their odds of getting away with this should have seemed slim considering they chose 35 victims. They were betting on winning the PUA lottery and absconding with some cash they didn’t deserve.)

Fifteen of the identities they stole belonged to Virginia Department of Corrections inmates. (More like their soon-to-be neighbors.) Within nine months, Tackett and Chytka filed $499,000 worth of claims for over 36 individuals. (That is a lot of paperwork. They should have used their administrative skills to find a legitimate job.)

Tackett pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, one count of aggravated identity theft, one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and one count of obstructing justice. He was sentenced to 108 months in prison.

Tackett’s girlfriend, Leelynn Danielle Chytka, received a 108-month prison sentence and must pay $455,930 in restitution for conspiring with her boyfriend and others to defraud the government out of nearly half a million dollars. In addition to pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud with respect to benefits authorized and paid in connection with a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency, and one count of aggravated identity theft, she also pleaded guilty to and one count of distribution of suboxone. (Yes, she was caught distributing drugs into a prison facility. Does that really surprise you? Now we know how the identities were stolen.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Southwest Virginia Man Sentenced to 108 Months for Role in Pandemic Unemployment Fraud Scheme,” dated July 27, 2021.

ABINGDON, Va. – A Pound, Virginia man, who conspired with others to fraudulently file more than $499,000 in pandemic unemployment benefits, was sentenced today to 108 months in federal prison.

Gregory Marcus Tackett, 28, pleaded guilty in April 2021 to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, and one count of obstructing justice.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.