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Feds charge և 3 in mass unemployment scams in California

SACRAMENTO, CA. (AP) – The federal prosecutor’s office said Friday that it has charged three Southern California women with using prisoner names to raise $ 1.25 million in coronavirus-related unemployment benefits for a state agency, the latest in a hundred charges. An ongoing scandal worth millions of dollars.

The three are in the top ten, accused in the greater Los Angeles area of ​​և 150, who are federally accused of using federal benefits that were supposed to help those who lost their jobs during the epidemic.

Most of the scams took place in California, where state auditors said in January that the Department of Employment had approved at least $ 810 million in the names of some 45,000 inmates, some of whom had been sentenced to death. Convicts are not entitled to these benefits.

Each woman in Southern California is individually charged with fraudulent emergency benefits և electrical fraud. The former faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison and the latter up to 20 years in prison.

Sequoia Edwards, 35, of Moreno Valley, was arrested Friday on charges of filing at least 27 false unemployment claims last summer, including at least six inmates she received from a cousin in custody. Prosecutors say debit cards և $ 45,000 in cash were withdrawn from his home in the FBI raid in February, amounting to at least $ 455,000 in benefits.

His lawyer, Mark Daniel Melnik, did not respond to requests for comment by e-mail or e-mail.

Mirea Ramos, 42, of Colton, was arrested on Thursday on charges of receiving at least $ 353,532 in unemployment benefits for at least 37 fraudulent claims. Prosecutors say most of them were on behalf of the prisoners, and many said they were hairdressers who were out of work due to the epidemic. They said he obtained the identities of the detainees from a friend who was serving a life sentence in a California state prison.

Authorities arrested Paris Thomas, 33, of San Bernardino on Wednesday on charges of embezzling more than $ 440,000 in a series of 49 fake lawsuits, including at least 15 in state “federal” prisons and county jails. Prosecutors say a search of his home by the FBI in February turned up a debit card notebook with information on an application for more than 40 people.

Deputy Public Defender Young Kim, who represents the two women, declined to comment.

California lawmakers on Thursday introduced a second of three similar bills that required state unemployment officials to check unemployment applications with inmates’ records to identify fraudulent claims, which auditors say at least 35 other states have done.

The measures would change California’s restrictions on prisoner information that could be shared with other government agencies.


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