Why Can’t They Work?

Unemployment claim form on an office table.

Veldreka L. Crockett had one job and one job only, to determine the Medicaid eligibility of incarcerated individuals in the Commonwealth of Virginia. But fraudsters see expansion opportunities when the rest of us don’t, and Crockett saw opportunity with the pandemic and unemployed prisoners.

Crockett filed fraudulent unemployment claims on behalf of at least 30 inmates, using the private identification information gathered by Clarence Stith of Lawrenceville Correctional Center and Andre Mason of Greensville Correctional Center in the convenience of their respective prisons. In the claims, Crocket generated false statements about the inmates including that they were unable to work because of the pandemic. Pointing out the obvious would have been they can’t work because they are in jail!

Crockett and her co-conspirators also filed weekly re-certifications for unemployment claims to ensure that the VEC would continue to pay benefits. All payments were mailed out as pre-paid debit cards in the name of the inmates whose identities were stolen, to addresses listed by Crockett that were not the addresses of the prisons! As part of the scheme, Crockett also transferred funds from these pre-paid debit cards to Stith via Stith’s prison commissary account and to individuals designated by Mason.

On July 21, 2022, Crockett and her co-conspirators plead guilty to stealing almost $320,000 from the U.S. government in unemployment benefits and identity theft from 2020 to 2021.  Sentencing will be in October 2022.

Great job by the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Homeland Security on working this case.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article posted by Virginia News on July 22, 2022.

Hopewell woman, two Virginia inmates plead guilty to COVID-19 unemployment benefits fraud

by: Ivy Tan

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Three people in Virginia have pleaded guilty to conspiring to use the personal data of inmates incarcerated in the state’s prisons to illegally get access to COVID-19 unemployment benefits, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a press release on Thursday, July 21.

The DOJ said court documents revealed that 31-year-old Veldreka L. Crockett, of Hopewell, once worked for a state-contracted company that helped manage Virginia’s Medicaid program. Her job entailed determining the Medicaid eligibility of incarcerated individuals in the Commonwealth.

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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.