Working at Not Having a Job

6752086 - filling the unemployment insurance application form isolated in blue

In order to legally collect unemployment benefits in California, an individual must have past earnings that meet certain minimum thresholds; be unemployed through no fault of their own; and, be able, available and actively seeking a job. An Anaheim, California woman circumvented this well-defined process by using stolen identities and sham companies to collect about $550,000 in unemployment benefits she did not deserve. (It is interesting how her lucrative unemployment fraud scam actually created a job under the premise of not having a job.)

For more than three years, today’s fraudster and a co-conspirator worked diligently to defraud the California Employment Development Department (EDD), the state agency that administers the federal unemployment insurance program. Here’s how they did it: the two fraudsters registered fictitious companies through the EDD and submitted bogus wage information for people who supposedly worked for the sham companies. Then, the two co-conspirators submitted about 40 unemployment insurance claims under these names. (Social Security numbers and dates of birth for at least 10 victims were used without permission.)

The mastermind of this unemployment fraud scheme registered the fake businesses under addresses that she controlled. She also directed the EDD to mail debit cards to other addresses she controlled to collect the unemployment benefits for the fake claimants who supposedly worked for the sham companies. (That sounds like a lot of work to me.)

The Anaheim woman pleaded guilty to unemployment fraud for defrauding the EDD out of $547,904. The 49-year-old was ordered to pay full restitution to her victims. (Isn’t it ironic how hard this woman worked to not have a job? Wouldn’t it have been easier to work 9 to 5 and earn an honest living?)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, “OC Woman Sentenced to Federal Prison for Unemployment Insurance Fraud,” posted on on April 10, 2019.  

An Anaheim woman was sentenced Tuesday to four and a half years in federal prison for defrauding the state’s unemployment insurance program out of more than $500,000 by using stolen identities to submit bogus claims for so-called employees who supposedly worked at sham companies.

Rolanda Ashley, 49, pleaded guilty in October in Los Angeles federal court to one felony count of mail fraud. She was also ordered to pay $547,904 in restitution to her victims, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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Larry Benson
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.