In July of 2020, the FBI publicly warned of stolen identities being used for fraudulent COVID-19 unemployment benefits with the victims not knowing until they themselves applied for unemployment benefits. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program was a particular target of criminals in 2020 because the U.S. Department of Labor and state governments allowed claimants to self-certify their employment and earnings. Self-certifying is what fraudsters do best! And it’s how Rowlando Hatter illegally obtained $3.3 million in COVID-related Unemployment Insurance benefits. Because no one questioned the one hundred stolen identities that he self-certified while filing benefit claims in Georgia, California, Arizona, Maryland, and Michigan.
In the chaos of the pandemic, the state workforce agencies approved more than 200 claims filed by Hatter between May 2020 and October 2020. Debit cards, issued as benefit payments, were mailed to addresses in the metro-Atlanta area and in Michigan, that were controlled by Hatter. Some of those addresses included UPS mailboxes opened by Hatter specifically to receive fraudulent benefits. Hatter used the debit cards at various ATMS to withdraw cash.
Rowlando Hatter, Jr. eventually had to self-certify himself in court. On April 4, 2023, Hatter was sentenced to five years, nine months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. Judge Jones also ordered Hatter to pay restitution in the amount of $2,930,410.50.
Great job by the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force on this multi-state, multi stolen identity fraud
Today’s Fraud Of The Day is based on article “Smyrna Man Sentenced To Five Years For Defrauding CARES Act Funds” published by Cobb County Courier on April 4, 2023
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Rowlando Hatter Jr., 32, of Smyrna, Georgia was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison for his involvement in a scheme to illegally obtain $3.3 million in COVID-related Unemployment Insurance benefits using the personal information of more than 100 victims.
In addition to the five years, Hatter was sentenced to three years of supervised release after his term in prison and was ordered to pay restitution of $2,930,410.50. The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones. The charges were conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Hatter entered a plea of guilty to the charges.