How One Woman Allegedly Defrauded $550K From Unemployment

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A federal grand jury has indicted a California woman for allegedly scamming the unemployment system for half a million dollars, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced Wednesday.

Deborah Hollimon was charged with unemployment fraud and aggravated identity theft. The scam occurred between September 2012 and September 2015. Through a series of elaborate unemployment claims involving identity theft and fictitious entities, she was allegedly able to steal $550,000 in fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits.

Hollimon at the moment is missing. Law enforcement is requesting the help of anyone that might know her whereabouts. She faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine in addition to a mandatory minimum two years in prison for aggravated identity theft

Hollimon created fictitious employers so that she could file fake unemployment claims. Her claims listed herself, fake people and victims of identity theft. The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Labor investigated the case with the California Employment Development Department (EDD).

Fraud is a huge problem for the federal unemployment system. An estimated 3.19 percent of all benefit payments in 2014 have been  the result of fraud alone at a cost of $1.5 billion. Additionally, unnecessary payments totaled $5.4 billion of that same year. Fraud most often occurs through identity thieves and organized criminal groups.

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