The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the unemployment rate to rise, while also providing the perfect opportunity for false jobless claims to become rampant in California and across the United States. In fact, California state officials reported that at least $20 billion in fraudulent unemployment benefits have been dispersed since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Keheir Parker, 25, of Victorville, Calif., was out driving a white Mercedes in Las Vegas, Nev., when he and passenger Robert Parker were pulled over by police for a traffic violation. (Most likely a joyride.) What was supposed to be a routine traffic stop ultimately led to an unemployment fraud conviction for Parker. Barber eventually agreed to plead guilty to the same charges brought against Parker.
Because Parker had an outstanding arrest warrant, he was immediately taken into custody. (According to court records, he was detained with more than $4,500 on him.) Law enforcement also found more than $2,000 in the car, more than $5,200 on Barber, and 12 California Employment Development Department (EDD) unemployment benefit debit cards. (All in different names, I might add.)
When Parker was asked by police officers about the dozen unemployment benefit debit cards found in the vehicle, he claimed they belonged to family members, even though none of the cards bore the last name “Parker.” (Each card had a different last name.)
Also found in the luxury vehicle were ATM receipts showing that $7,400 in cash withdrawals had been made using the EDD cards in Nevada and California. At least $249,460 in unemployment benefits was approved for claims associated with the dozen recovered debit cards. Another $170,715.78 was obtained from accounts associated with those cards, including $148,400 in ATM cash withdrawals and $22,315.78 in purchases.
Parker pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to effect illegal transactions with access devices. The Victorville man was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for stealing more than $170,000 of benefits from unemployment debits cards issued in other people’s names. He will also serve three years of supervised release and pay restitution of $170,715.78 to the California’s EDD. Robert has not been sentenced yet.
Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Victorville man sentenced for $170,000 in unemployment fraud,” published by Insurance Newsnet on March 1, 2022.
A Victorville man was sentenced to more than two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to fraudulently spending more than $170,000 with unemployment benefit cards in other people’s names.
Keheir Parker, 25, pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to effect illegal transactions with access devices.