Essex County Man Charged in Scheme to Fraudulently Obtain More Than $4 Million from Government Programs
NEWARK, N.J. – A Union County, New Jersey, man will make his initial court appearance today on charges of using other individuals’ personal identification information to obtain unemployment insurance benefits, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Maurice Mills, 28, of Union Township, New Jersey, is scheduled to appear by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act created a new temporary federal unemployment insurance program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provides unemployment insurance benefits for individuals who are not eligible for other types of unemployment, such as people who are self-employed, independent contractors, and gig economy workers. The CARES Act also created a new temporary federal program called the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC) that provides an additional $600 weekly benefit to those eligible for PUA and regular unemployment insurance benefits.
A single IP address was used to submit unemployment insurance benefits claims on behalf of approximately 20 individuals to the State of New York. Many of these claims were in the names of individuals located in Texas and directed the benefits to be sent to locations in New Jersey. Mills was associated both with the IP address as well as a telephone number used to make some of the claims. Mills also was observed using an unemployment insurance benefits debit card to make a withdrawal from an ATM. To date, the claims made using the IP address have resulted in more than $400,000 in actual losses and more than $600,000 in potential losses. The charge of wire fraud is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000, twice the gross profits or loss, whichever is greater.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael C. Mikulka in New York; special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark; inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Raimundo Marrero in Newark; and special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, under Special Agent in Charge Mark McKevitt in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charges. U.S. Attorney Carpenito also thanked the New York State Department of Labor, Office of Special Investigations for its assistance in the investigation.
This case is being investigated as part of the Department of Justice’s COVID Fraud Task Force. To learn more about the Department’s efforts to stop illegal COVID-19-related activity, visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus. The public is urged to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline by phone at (1-866-720-5721) or via an online reporting form available at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Kogan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Cybercrime Unit in Newark and Trial Attorney Jessica Peck, Trial Attorney, of the DOJ Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.