Feds Using Wire Fraud Charges to Prosecute Theft of Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
The May 2022 arrest of a Camden County man on federal wire fraud charges related to pandemic unemployment assistance illustrates how authorities are cracking down on crimes connected to the government’s COVID-19 relief programs. As federal agencies ramp up their investigations and devote more resources to prosecuting this type of fraud, it is crucial that anyone facing criminal charges find an experienced defense lawyer.
Federal prosecutors allege that Willie Carter, 22, of Bellmawr, filed 34 fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits in 10 different states between July and October 2020. Through this scheme, Carter allegedly received $150,000 in payouts from various COVID relief programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. If convicted on the wire fraud charge, Carter could face up to 20 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines.
In order to convict someone of wire fraud, prosecutors must prove these elements of their case:
- The existence of a scheme to commit fraud
- A specific intent to commit fraud
- Use of an interstate communications device to transmit material
In the Carter case and in many of today’s wire fraud cases, the internet is used as the communications device. Carter allegedly used 10 different state websites to apply for pandemic unemployment insurance. That amounts to fraudulent use of a wire.
It is likely that more people will be accused of pandemic-related fraud in the near future. In March 2022, the Department of Justice created a new position called the Director of COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement, a prosecutor specifically focused on identifying complex COVID relief fraud schemes. The DOJ is committing significant monetary and human resources to uncovering pandemic relief crimes, which will lead to more federal indictments. New Jersey residents who believe they are under investigation or who have been arrested for COVID-related crimes should retain a skilled federal crimes defense attorney right away.
At the Law Offices of David Jay Glassman, we are ready to defend New Jersey residents who are accused of wire fraud, theft, embezzlement, cybercrimes and other offenses related to alleged COVID-19 relief fraud. Our firm is led by a former prosecutor with more than 40 years of experience handling federal criminal cases. Call our firm at 866-221-1270 or contact us online. We have offices in Marlton, New Brunswick, Newark and Hackensack and handle cases statewide.