Scheming on the Outside Leads to Being on the Inside

Man writing resume and CV in home office with laptop. Applicant searching for new work and typing curriculum vitae for application. Job seeking, hunt and unemployment. Mock up text in computer screen.

A woman from Glen Allen, Va., recently pleaded guilty to mail fraud after working to obtain unemployment benefits for prison inmates. Virginia Smith, 37, was the ringleader in a scheme to obtain pandemic-related unemployment benefits for 22 individuals behind bars.

Smith and an inmate at Baskerville Correctional Center conspired together to gather identification information from inmates. Together, they filed unemployment applications for inmates during the pandemic. (These individuals were not working because they had been laid off, they were out of a job because they broke the law. That disqualifies them from receiving unemployment benefits.)

More than 20 fraudulent applications were submitted as a part of this unemployment scheme. (That’s 20 more inmates who’ll undoubtedly have additional time tacked on to their sentences for participating in this fraudulent scheme.)  

Smith used the inmates’ names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers to apply for unemployment benefits. If their applications were approved, she shared the money with the inmates and kept part for herself. (She wasn’t exactly running this scheme out of the kindness of her heart. She was in it to make money off of anyone she could find.)  

The approved applications included false information such as incorrect addresses, false previous employers, and an untrue statement that the inmates could work again if employment became available. (The only bit of data that was true on each application was the inmate’s name.) 

Approximately $223,984.72 in fraudulent benefits were paid out to Smith and the 22 inmates whose applications were approved. These unemployment funds were intended for members of the community who were financially struggling due to the pandemic, not prisoners who were looking to make a few extra bucks.

Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on September 9, 2021. The maximum federal sentencing for her fraudulent activity is 30 years in prison. (Looks like this fraudster is going from scheming with the inmates, to actually becoming one.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from article “Glen Allen woman pleads guilty to obtaining unemployment benefits for inmates through mail fraud,” published by ABC8 news on June 11, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A woman from Glen Allen pleaded guilty to mail fraud on Friday after working to obtain unemployment benefits for over 20 inmates.

During the scheme, 37-year-old Virginia Smith managed to secure pandemic-related benefits for 22 prison inmates.


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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.