California Inmates Involved in $1 Billion COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits Fraud, According to Officials
California prison inmates have committed a massive amount of benefit fraud this year, potentially grossing over $ 1 billion in illegitimate unemployment benefits under programs put in place to help mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19. According to the California Attorney's Office, the program involved tens of thousands of inmates across the California penitentiary.
"The fraud is frankly mind-boggling," Anne Marie Schubert, District Attorney for Sacramento, told NBC News.
Benefits were divided into direct payments to inmates and checks to their relatives. A significant portion of the state's death row inmates (133 out of 700) had used their names in the conspiracy. Suspected beneficiaries include Scott Peterson, a true criminal who became notorious after killing his wife and unborn child in 2002.
Peterson's attorney alleged his name was used without his knowledge when speaking to CNN.
"You are not making any allegations against Scott right now," said attorney Pat Harris. "There is no charge that he did anything wrong. I am 100 percent confident that Scott was not involved in any fraudulent activity."
The fraud also included many cases of false names and incorrect social security numbers, according to the authorities. John Doe, John Adams and "Poopy Britches" were found to be fraudulent beneficiaries of the program set up by inmates. Most of the alleged fraud took advantage of the additional $ 600 per week unemployment benefit granted under the CARES Act.
"This money was stolen from the California government coffers," Schubert told CNN.
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