eight from Brooklyn charged with multi-million greenback COVID fraud

Social media posts showed that defendants fanned bundles of unemployment benefits

From brooklyneagle.com

Eight Brooklyn residents, all in their late teens or early and mid twenties, have been charged with a system of receiving millions in unemployment insurance benefits funded in whole or in part from COVID-19 pandemic relief programs to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

On Tuesday, a criminal complaint in Brooklyn federal court was overturned in which Bryan Abraham, Carlos Vazquez, Angel Cabrera, Armani Miller, Johan Santos, Gianni Stewart, Andre Ruddock and Seth Golding were charged with conspiracy to fraud with access devices.

Six of them were arrested Tuesday morning and appeared for the first time before US judge Ramon E. Reyes. Miller and Santos remain at large. DAILY TOP BROOKLYN NEWSNews for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

As alleged in the complaint, the defendants filed fraudulent claims with the New York State Department of Labor for unemployment insurance benefits between June 2020 and April 2021. They used the personal information of third party victims to fraudulently obtain unemployment insurance benefits funded in whole or in part from COVID-19 pandemic relief programs.

The defendants’ system allegedly resulted in approximately US $ 2 million in unemployment benefits being distributed to the defendants and others.

Cabrera, Golding, Stewart and Vazquez have posted photos of themselves on social media holding and fanning out large sums of money, according to the US Attorney’s Office.

Mark J. Lesko, acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Philip R. Bartlett, Chief Inspector, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division; Nikitas Splagounias, US Department of Labor Special Representative in charge, Inspector General’s Office, New York Area; and New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon announced the arrests and charges.

“As alleged, the defendants not only fraudulently received $ 2 million in pandemic-related unemployment benefits by using information from third-party victims, they also boldly displayed the proceeds of their fraud – large amounts of stolen money – on social media,” said Acting United States Attorney Lesko. ->

“Unfortunately, when the government put in place various CARES Act programs, scammers were ready to take full advantage of those programs through a variety of scam programs, ripping off the American public of millions in tax dollars, and clogging the system for those who are frankly in need,” said USPIS inspector in charge, Bartlett.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed laws to establish programs and provide additional funding for unemployment insurance benefits for the unemployed. These include the Coronavirus Aid, Aid and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which came into force on March 27, 2020, which created federal programs for pandemic unemployment assistance and federal pandemic unemployment compensation.

The government’s case is handled by the Office’s General Crimes Division. United States Assistant Attorney Tara McGrath is responsible for law enforcement, with the assistance of United States Assistant Attorney Brendan G. King of the Office’s Property Deterioration Division.

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