There’s nothing unusual about some greedy scammer fraudulently obtaining unemployment benefits, but it takes extra chutzpah to run the scam across several states. Alvin Lavon Rex (uh—King of thieves?) of Iowa admitted in a plea agreement that he opened multiple bank accounts in May and June 2020, using them to deposit CARES Act unemployment benefits in the names of residents from Arizona, Ohio, and Massachusetts. (There’s nothing fishy about sending one’s unemployment compensation to a new out-of-state bank at all.) He then withdrew the benefits in cash and mailed them through the U.S. Postal Service. (An act that makes no sense but provides another convenient criminal charge.)
Let’s just say this wasn’t his first fraud rodeo. Rex also admitted that prior to the pandemic, he acquired a fraudulent tax refund in another person’s name (however did that happen?) and cashed counterfeit checks at local banks. (Okay, King of dumb thieves, maybe.)
After receiving more than $35K in fraudulent CARES Act unemployment compensation, Rex pleaded guilty in December 2020 to one count of mail fraud – for which he could have received up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release. (Of course, had he not gone for the plea bargain, he might also have been charged with multiple counts of identity theft, not to mention tax fraud and bank fraud. So, he finally did one smart thing.)
Rex was sentenced in May to five years in prison for the mail fraud count, must pay more than $63,000 in restitution, and will serve a term of five years of supervised release. (While he got off light, there is no parole in federal prison, making one less crook to keep track of for the next few years.)
Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa, “Schaller Man Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison for COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits Fraud,” dated May 21, 2021.
Alvin Lavon Rex, age 61, from Schaller, Iowa, has been charged with one count of mail fraud. The charge is contained in a criminal complaint unsealed today in United States District Court in Sioux City.
The complaint alleges that, in about May 2020, Rex received approximately $19,000 in deposits in his account at a bank in Storm Lake. The deposits were moneys received from unemployment claims made in Massachusetts and Arizona. The complaint further alleges that Rex then made a series of cash withdrawals from his account and mailed the cash to at least one other person in Maryland.