Skip to main content
Press Release

Charlotte Woman Pleads Guilty To COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Kaila Leaann Shanteau-Jackson, 30, of Charlotte, pleaded guilty to wire fraud today, for defrauding the State of Arizona’s COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit program of approximately $995,000, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Jason Byrnes, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service, Charlotte Field Office, and Chief Johnny Jennings of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.

According to plea documents and statements made in court, from June 2020 to September 2021, Jackson engaged in a scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Labor and the State of Arizona by fraudulently creating and redirecting payments for COVID-19 UI benefits to herself and others. During the relevant time frame, Jackson was employed as a vendor-contractor for a financial institution that serviced the UI benefit program in Arizona through the mailing of pre-paid debit cards to qualified recipients. Jackson held the position of Pre-Paid Claims Initiation Agent with the financial institution and, as part of her employment, Jackson had access to the financial institution’s Pre-Paid Administration System (PAS).

According to court documents, Jackson utilized her employment credentials to divert and re-route UI benefits intended for 138 victims to herself and others. To effectuate the scheme, Jackson accessed PAS and changed the recipients’ address information in the database to addresses in Charlotte to which Jackson and others had access. Once Jackson and others received the re-routed pre-paid debit cards, they either withdrew the benefits in cash from ATMs or engaged in merchant transactions with the stolen funds.

Jackson appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler and pleaded guilty to wire fraud. The charge carries a maximum term of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine. A sentencing date for Jackson has not been set.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King thanked the U.S. Secret Service and CMPD for their investigative efforts.

The prosecution is handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Warren of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.  

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 Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: Members of the public in the Western District of North Carolina can also call 704-344-6222 to reach their local Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator.

Updated July 5, 2022