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 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.