West Warwick Man Indicted in Unemployment Fraud Scheme
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Rhode Island:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A West Warwick man was arraigned on Monday in U.S. District Court on charges contained in a federal indictment alleging that he participated in a conspiracy to use the stolen identities of others to gain COVID related unemployment insurance benefits, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha.
Richard Allen, 56, pled not guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, five counts of aggravated identity theft, and two counts of theft of government money.
Charging documents allege that Allen and other members of the conspiracy used stolen personal identifying information of other individuals, to file for COVID-related unemployment benefits. It is alleged that fraudulent applications were filed with agencies in multiple states, including Ohio, Massachusetts, Arizona, and Texas. Allen and co-conspirators are alleged to have listed addresses associated with Allen to which benefit payments by check or debit card should be mailed.
Charging documents allege that Allen communicated with co-conspirators to activate benefit debit cards; withdrew funds from the debit cards; and sent a portion of the funds to co-conspirators, including via Bitcoin transactions. U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General databases show that checks and debit cards in the names of other persons with at least $58,734 in unemployment and expanded COVID benefits were mailed to Allen’s address.
The indictment also alleges that Allen, while conspiring to and receiving debit cards and checks with fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits, also fraudulently received payments from the Social Security Administration.
A federal indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. A defendant’s sentence will be determined by a federal district judge after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case, as well as other instances of criminal activity related to fraudulent applications for pandemic-related unemployment insurance benefits are being investigated jointly by the FBI, the Rhode Island State Police, and the U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General. Cases are jointly reviewed, charged, and prosecuted by a team of prosecutors that include Assistant U.S. Attorneys Denise M. Barton, Stacey P. Veroni, and G. Michael Seaman, and Rhode Island Assistant Attorney General John M. Moreira, chief of the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit.
United States Attorney Cunha and Attorney General Neronha thank the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General for their assistance in the investigation of this matter.