May 27, 2022

USA: Mail Carrier And Valencia Man Arrested On For Scheming To Steal $800,000 In CA Unemployment Benefits. Woman Serving Life Prison Sentence Led Fraud Ring For CA Unemployment Benefits

The Los Angeles Times
written by Christian Martinez
Thursday May 26, 2022

A United States Postal Service mail carrier and a Valencia man were arrested Thursday by federal authorities on suspicion of scheming to steal nearly $800,000 in unemployment insurance, authorities said.

The carrier, 32-year-old Stephen Glover of Palmdale, and 26-year-old Travis McKenzie are expected to face one count of mail fraud each, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release.

According to prosecutors, McKenzie lived on Glover’s delivery route and between 2020 and 2021, the two men obtained debit cards from the California Employment Development Department by applying for federal unemployment benefits using about 50 stolen identities and claiming COVID-19-related job losses.

The department issued cards with balances totaling $798,733. At least $318,771 had been withdrawn from the cards, officials said.

“The EDD debit cards were issued in the names of victims, some of whom had never resided in, worked in, or even visited California,” prosecutors said in the release.

The two men withdrew and split money using the cards, some of which held balances over $30,000.

Last spring, law enforcement served search warrants at the men’s residences and the home of Glover’s girlfriend, and found hundreds of pieces of stolen EDD-related mail and 15 debit cards, prosecutors say.

Officials alleged that Glover and McKenzie also committed a similar scheme to obtain debit cards from the Virginia Employment Commission.

Glover also allegedly stole personal and business checks from the mail totaling over $20,000 officials said.

If convicted of the single count of mail fraud, Glover and McKenzie could face 20 years in federal prison.

This month, federal prosecutors charged 13 people in a similar scheme that was reportedly run from behind bars.

Members of the fraud ring allegedly headed by Natalie Le DeMola, a 37-year-old serving a life sentence for first-degree murder in California state prison, obtained personal information from victims including Social Security numbers and dates of birth and applied for unemployment benefits, authorities said.

The scheme netted at least $2 million, officials said.
Used Stolen Identities to Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Benefits
Tuesday, May 17, 2022

LOS ANGELES – Federal authorities today arrested five people linked to a ring that allegedly obtained at least $2 million in California unemployment insurance (UI) benefits – mostly pandemic-related relief – by using stolen identities, some of which belonged to California prison inmates.

The arrests were made pursuant to a 39-count indictment that charges 13 defendants in a scheme to use misappropriated personal identifying information (PII) to fraudulent apply for, and receive, unemployment benefits, mostly during the second half of 2020.

The lead defendant in the case is Natalie Le Demola, 37, who is currently serving a life prison sentence after she was convicted in 2005 of first-degree murder. The indictment also charges Carleisha Neosha Plummer, 32, of Los Angeles, who was a close associate of Demola in prison until she was paroled in July 2020.

The indictment charges all 13 defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. The conspiracy count alleges 150 overt acts, including illegally obtaining PII, some of which was provided by an unnamed prison official employed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The indictment names various defendants in 31 bank fraud counts and seven aggravated identity theft counts.

Demola, Plummer and other co-conspirators “would acquire the PII, such as the names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers, of individuals, including identity theft victims, who were not eligible for UI benefits, including pandemic benefits, because they were employed, retired, or incarcerated,” the indictment alleges. Members of the conspiracy then allegedly used the information to make fraudulent online applications for UI benefits from the California Employment Development Department (EDD). Once the applications were approved, members of the conspiracy received EDD-funded debit that allowed them to withdraw money from ATMs across Southern California, according to the indictment.

The defendants named in the indictment are:

Demola, originally of Corona, who will be brought to federal court to face the charges in this case; Plummer, 32, of Los Angeles, who was arrested today;
  • Khanshanda King, 31, of Los Angeles, who is still being sought;
  • Cleshay Johnson II, 28, of Los Angeles, who is still being sought;
  • James Antonio Johnson, who has several aliases including
  • “Big Dawg Niddy,” 31, of Los Angeles, who is currently in custody in a Los Angeles County jail;
  • Felicite Aleisha King, 41, of Los Angeles, who is still being sought;
  • Shafequah Lynete Mitchell, 33, of Los Angeles, who is currently traveling outside of California;
  • Loresha Shamone Davis, 31, of Moreno Valley, who was arrested today;
  • Porsha Latrice Johnson, 32, of Lynwood, who was arrested today;
  • Donisha Lashawn Pace, 38, of South Los Angeles, who was arrested today;
  • Dominique Charmone Martin, 37, of Yucaipa, who is still being sought;
  • Mykara Destiny Robertson, 23, of Los Angeles, who is still being sought;
  • and Amber Jane Wade, 34, of Palmdale, who was arrested today.
Those arrested today are being arraigned this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

The conspiracy and bank fraud charges each carry a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year consecutive sentence.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

The investigation into this scheme was conducted by the Los Angeles El Camino Real Financial Crimes Task Force, a multi-agency task force led by Homeland Security Investigations that includes federal and state investigators who are focused on financial crimes in Southern California. The California Employment Development Department, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the United States Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General, the Inglewood Police Department, and the United States Marshals Service participated in this investigation.

Assistant United States Attorney Gregory Bernstein of the Major Frauds Section is prosecuting this case.


No comments: