Gaithersburg Man Pleads Guilty in Identity Theft and Access Device Conspiracy to Obtain Maryland Unemployment Benefits
Baltimore, Maryland - Vivek Jain, age 26, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit access device fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to use the personal identifying information of others to fraudulently obtain at least $170,000 in Maryland unemployment benefits issued in the form of prepaid debit cards.
The plea agreement was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Acting Special Agent-in-Charge William R. Jones, U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations; and Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel S. Cortez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division. Mr. Rosenstein thanked the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) for their assistance in this investigation and prosecution.
According to his plea agreement, from the summer of 2010 to February 2011, Jain and his co-defendant conspired to use the identifying information of other individuals to fraudulently apply for and obtain Maryland unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits were provided to applicants on prepaid VISA debit cards issued by Citi Prepaid Services (Citi) on behalf of the DLLR, who administered unemployment benefit programs in Maryland. Jain and his co-defendant made false representations in order to obtain debit cards in the names of other persons from the DLLR and Citi, and used mailboxes at commercial establishments, including UPS stores located in Rockville and Gaithersburg, Maryland, and Lawrence, Kansas to receive the debit cards.
Jain took preventative measures to make sure that his identity and face were not recorded at ATMs where he used the fraudulent debit cards to withdraw cash, including the use of disguises and the use of ATMs without cameras. Jain withdrew cash at ATMs located in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania metropolitan areas; traveled to New York and Georgia in furtherance of the conspiracy; and spent the ill gotten money for his own benefit.
On February 14, 2011, law enforcement officers in Georgia recovered 42 debit cards from Jain’s vehicle, which were issued pursuant to the Maryland unemployment insurance program. Police officers also located several printed pages and a computer file containing the names, dates of birth and social security numbers of approximately 1,200 persons who live across Maryland, including the Eastern Shore, Hagerstown, Baltimore and Gaithersburg. Jain admitted that his co-defendant gave him the list of 1,200 persons, that he illegally used the identifying information of approximately 40 persons, and that he unlawfully used approximately 40 unauthorized access devices to withdraw between $120,000 and $170,000 in cash at ATM machines.
As part of the plea agreement, Jain has agreed to an order of forfeiture and restitution of between $120,000 and $170,000, to be determined by the Court at sentencing.
Jain faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy; and a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, for aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Ellen Hollander scheduled sentencing for February 16, 2012, at 4:30 p.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their work in the investigation and thanked the Maryland DLLR, District Attorney’s Office, Atlantic Judicial District in Liberty County, Georgia and the Darien, Georgia, Police Department for their assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Harry M. Gruber and Tamera L. Fine, who are prosecuting the case.