A South California woman has pleaded guilty to a federal criminal charge of acquiring $500,000 in the Covid-19 benefits or EDD funds owing to an EDD scam. The prosecutors say that she had obtained the benefits using various personal information inclusive of stolen Social Security Numbers (SSNs).
The woman has been identified as Cara Marie Kirk-Connell, aged 32 years. In a plea agreement, she has admitted to having purchased stolen identities from the dark web. The prosecutors say that the accused had been watching YouTube videos and educating herself on “how to file fraudulent unemployment claims” for conducting EDD scam.
The accused has pleaded guilty to one count of use of an access device, mainly unauthorized, in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The woman is now addressed to face a maximum of 10 years in the federal prison. She had been sentenced in April. However, the federal sentencing guidelines usually call for less time in prison.
As included in the accused’s plea deal with the prosecutors, she admitted that she had procured debit cards from the California Employment Development Department (CEDD) using stolen personal information bought from the dark web. The EDD scam was over $500,000.
The EDD records of California show that the identities and the cards had been used to extract approximately $534,149 in the unemployment funds related to Covid-19. Of the acquired amount, about $270,000 had already been consumed. This information has been mentioned in an affidavit that has been filed in the investigation.
The benefits of the EDD funds were noble. They were intended for the distribution under the Economic Security Act and the Coronavirus Aid Relief Act that had been passed in March by the Congress.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the legislation had expanded the unemployment benefits for covering the business owner, independent contractors and the self-employed workers who had lost their source of income.
In the latest Covid-19 surge, California had been the hardest hit U.S. state that has experienced the death of over 300,000 people throughout the nation after the infection began spreading in March this year.
Source: Mercury News
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