Three Men Charged For COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Benefits Fraud
LAS VEGAS – Three men made their initial appearances in federal court today for their alleged roles in a conspiracy to apply for and use Nevada and California unemployment insurance benefits debit cards — approved for over $900,000 — that were issued in other peoples’ names.
Luigi J. Montes (41), of Sugarland, Texas, Alexander Hoyos Rivera (24), of Marion, Ohio, and Peter Alexander Stincer (33), of Sylmar, California, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft.
According to allegations contained in the complaint, from about March 1, 2020 to January 6, 2021, Montes, Rivera, and Stincer conspired with others — including Alan Ray, who was previously charged and pleaded guilty in October 2021 to his role in the conspiracy — to defraud the Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation (DETR) and the California Employment Development Department (EDD). As part of the scheme, the defendants fraudulently applied for unemployment insurance benefits with DETR and EDD, using stolen personal identifying information. The debit cards were sent to mailing addresses to which the defendants had access. After receiving the unemployment insurance debit cards, Montes, Rivera, and Stincer withdrew the funds at various ATMS located in several states, including Nevada, California, and Texas. In total, the fraud scheme involved at least $934,129 in benefits approved by the state workforce agencies, and implicated $1,149,250 in actual and potential benefits.
Montes, Rivera, and Stincer each appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach. If convicted, each defendant faces a statutory maximum penalty of 26 years in prison.
Acting U.S. Attorney Christopher Chiou for the District of Nevada and Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse for the FBI made the announcement.
This case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Fang is prosecuting the case.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.