No Love Lost

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There’s no love lost between the government and criminals who try to defraud its benefit programs. A woman who formerly ran a tax preparation business ironically called Compassionate Financial Service also lacked compassion for the victims she used to carry out an unemployment benefit scam that netted her more than $300,000.

Over three years, the woman allegedly filed fake online applications for unemployment benefits using the names of former employees at her tax business. Unbeknownst to some of her relatives, friends and former clients, she also used their personal information to carry out the ruse. She posed as the different claimants each week when filing online forms. (Holidays should be especially fun this year.)

The woman was captured on surveillance video withdrawing funds using her illegally-gained unemployment benefit debit cards at ATMs across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. It is estimated that she collected 521 benefit payments worth more than $345,000. (That’s more than $100,000 a year. I wonder how she spent all that cash.)

The guilty 35-year-old was sentenced to seven years in prison and will be required to pay back a total of $345,000 in restitution. (She has already paid $31,000 to date.)

While this fraudster thought she had a pretty good plan to defraud the government, she quickly learned that the government is also accomplished in rooting out fraud and prosecuting the perpetrators. Her criminal efforts were no match for the government’s systematic process for protecting New Jersey’s safety net for the unemployed.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Jersey Shore woman gets 7 years for $345K unemployment benefit fraud,” posted on on December 6, 2016.

An Ocean County woman has been sentenced to seven years in prison for receiving more than $300,000 in illegal unemployment benefits.

Erica Rivera had pleaded guilty in September to second-degree theft by deception.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.