Three more people were sentenced in a massive welfare fraud scheme Thursday for their involvement in a conspiracy to steal $1.4 million in unemployment benefits across multiple states.
The Department of Labor (DOL) administers unemployment insurance with state agencies to help the unemployed. Yaw Bempa-Boateng, Carmen Benitez and Dulce Oleo scammed the system by submitting fraudulent application in Pennsylvania and Maryland between 2012 to 2015.
“Bempa-Boateng, Benitez, and Oleo conspired with Diameter Akala and others,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) detailed. “Akala, electronically and by phone, filed claims in Maryland and Pennsylvania for unemployment benefits in his own name and the names of other individuals, including his cousin, Benitez, and Bempa-Boateng, falsely claiming that they previously worked for those fictitious companies.”
Bempa-Boateng, Benitez, and Oleo are only the latest convictions in what has been a massive federal and state investigation. Eric Gonzalez, Tawana McClain, Ferny Puente and Wilfredo Torres pleaded guilty March 28 for their involvement in the scheme. They recruited co-constrictors to submit falsified application and took part of the benefits for helping.
“Akala and other members of the conspiracy used residential mailing addresses of Bempa-Boateng, Benitzez and Oleo, as well as other co-conspirators,” the DOJ continued. “In exchange for the use of their addresses, the co-conspirators received funds obtained through the fraud, typically in the form of a fraudulently obtained prepaid debit card.”
Akala faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He will also get a mandatory minimum of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft. Bempa-Boateng will get 30 months in prison while Benitez and Oleowill will each get 18 months in prison. They will also have to payback what the individually scammed for the system.
Investigators uncovered the scheme as part of an ongoing campaign to stop financial fraud. The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force was established in 2009 to coordinate federal and state agency to better investigate fraud.
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