INDEPENDENCE, Va. (WDBJ/OSIG Release) – An Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) investigation has revealed an inmate at River North Correctional Center in Independence filed false unemployment claims with the Virginia Employment Commission, using the names of other inmates. OSIG says the scheme was to defraud the Commonwealth of Virginia of unemployment insurance and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
The total intended losses attributable to the fraudulent filings was $109,540, according to OSIG. People on the outside who worked with the inmate to defraud the commonwealth were charged federally with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft and sentenced to federal prison terms, the inmate to 70 months and the co-conspirator to 37 months. They were ordered to pay joint restitution of $109,540.
In a second investigation, OSIG found a former VEC employee lied on 19 occasions when filing PUA claims online to obtain $7,830 in benefits from the Commonwealth that the employee was not qualified to receive.
The person pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge of obtaining money by false pretense and four misdemeanor charges for computer fraud and making false statements to obtain benefits. For each of the five charges, a judge sentenced the employee to 12 months in jail, but with all 12 months suspended. The suspended sentences are conditioned upon restitution of $7,830 to the VEC, community service of 150 hours to be completed within 12 months and uniform good behavior for 12 months.
Names of the offenders have not been released.
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