Two New Yorkers have been charged after they allegedly applied for unemployment benefits in at least three states, using other people's identities, and received over $200,000 in payment.
Prosecutors say Christopher Ferrera, 25, and Ashley Bourdier, 27, used the names and social security numbers of more than 25 other people to fraudulently obtain unemployment insurance. They were arrested Tuesday and charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud. In addition, Ferrera faces an aggravated identity theft charge.
It's unclear if Ferrera or Bourdier have a representative who can speak on their behalf.
In a news release, prosecutors said Ferrera and Bourdier operated their scheme from March through August.
“Unemployment Insurance fraud is something that we fight every day. However, for these criminals to use a pandemic for their personal gain while millions of New Yorkers legitimately need this assistance is even more despicable," New York Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said in the release.
New York has received about 3.68 million unemployment applications from unemployed individuals since mid-March, including another 100,000 claims in the week ending Sept. 5.
Nationwide, 13.4 million Americans continue to receive state unemployment benefits that have helped keep recipients afloat as the economy cratered amid stay-at-home orders and business closings.