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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Miami-Dade County Resident Sentenced in Stolen Identity Unemployment Insurance Fraud Scheme

A North Miami Beach resident was sentenced today to 96 months imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for filing fraudulent unemployment insurance claims using the personal identifying information (PII) of more than 90 individuals.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Rafiq Ahmad, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service (USSS), Thomas Caul, Special Agent in Charge, Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG), Mario J. Musolino, Acting Commissioner, New York State Department of Labor, Jesse Panuccio, Executive Director, State of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, and J. Scott Dennis, Chief, North Miami Beach Police Department, made the announcement.

According to court records, from at least as early as December 2013, through the summer of 2014, the unemployment insurance claims of more than 90 victims (utilizing the victims’ respective PII) were submitted online from the residence of Reginald Steele-Nelson, 28. In filing these claims, Steele-Nelson used the victims’ PII, including their names and social security numbers. A federal search warrant was obtained for Steele-Nelson’s residence and was executed on August 21, 2014. On that date, law enforcement officers discovered nearly two thousand pieces of unique PII inside the residence and on Steele-Nelson’s person. Law enforcement officers also located a credit card “skimmer,” a device specifically designed to assist in the creation of fraudulent credit and debit cards. Steele-Nelson filed fraudulent unemployment insurance claims with the states of Florida, New York, and Massachusetts. He also filed fraudulent Social Security claims and redirected legitimate Social Security claims from their intended recipients to accounts he controlled. The amount of the intended loss resulting from Steele-Nelson’s offense was nearly $900,000; when taken with the approximately $236,000 in funds actually paid out during the scheme, Steele-Nelson was held accountable for more than $1,100,000 in loss.

Steele-Nelson previously pled guilty to one count of use of one or more unauthorized access devices to obtain $1,000 in value or more during one calendar year, one count of possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices, one count of possession of device making equipment, and three counts of aggravated identity theft. Restitution in the full amount of actual loss, $236,371.45, was ordered by U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, USSS, SSA-OIG, the State of New York Department of Labor, the State of Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity, and the North Miami Beach Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ben Widlanski and Jamie R. Galvin.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Updated March 16, 2015