A man who is from Nigeria but who was in the United States was recently arrested in another state for his alleged role in a fraud scheme.
The fraud targeted Washington State’s Employment Security Department. Authorities claim that the man stole the identities of over 100 residents of this state and used those to funnel $350,000 in unemployment benefits to his personal accounts.
He is facing federal criminal charges in a court seated in the Seattle area. Authorities indicated that they do not believe the man acted alone and anticipate additional arrests.
Reports are that, overall, Washington State lost about $650 million in benefits. At the time the issue was discovered, about one year ago, the state had to shut down the payment of unemployment benefits temporarily in order to investigate.
The man may also face charges connected with his activity in other states.
People can get into serious trouble for their online activity
Authorities have stated that much of the activity they are accusing the man of happened online.
Specifically, they say that this man created multiple email addresses that were just different enough to fool the state’s computers. However, because of a feature in the online mail system he was using, messages to all of the different email addresses would all go to the same account.
Because he had also allegedly obtained identifying information from Washington residents, authorities say he was able successfully to apply for and receive unemployment benefits while posing as several different people.
He is now facing the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence as well as fines and other penalties, including having to repay around $350,000.
The man should keep in mind that defenses may be available to him. The federal government has to prove each and every element of its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and they will also have to show that their investigation complied with the law.
Those accused of online white collar crimes should evaluate their legal options carefully.