CALIFORNIA—On Tuesday, July 7, eight individuals were arrested for allegedly creating fake businesses to scam more than $1.1 million in unemployment benefits.
According to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, the nine-count indictment has been a three-year conspiracy to scam the California unemployment insurance program by creating fraudulent cleaning services and boutique stores in order to claim unemployment insurance. Some names the defendants used as fake employees included prison inmates.
Each of the eight defendants, at least six of whom are related, will be charged by a federal grand jury with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. The defendants were identified and named as the following:
-Donna Givens, 58, of the Gramercy Park area of Los Angeles
-Catrina Gipson, 44, of Moreno Valley, who is Givens’ niece
-Evelyn Taylor, 36, of Gramercy Park, a daughter of Givens
-Laron Taylor, 34, of Buena Park, a son of Givens
-Latrice Taylor, 37, of Buena Park, a daughter of Givens
-Raschell Taylor, 30, of San Bernardino, a daughter of Givens
-Bianka Logie, 45, of Moreno Valley
-Vernisha Jolivet, 27, of Indianapolis
Seven of the defendants were arraigned the same day. While Jolivet, who was arrested in Indianapolis, appeared in court in Indiana on Wednesday, July 8.
From February 2013 to July 2016, the eight suspects allegedly registered fake businesses, including Latasha’s Devining Cleaning Service, Charm Boutique and Infinite Cleaning Service, with the California Employment Development Department, the state’s administrator for federal unemployment insurance benefits.
Logie, Jolivet and Evelyn Taylor filed claims for unemployment insurance, claiming unemployment from the businesses created by their co-conspirators, according the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Givens and her children, Laron Taylor and Raschell Taylor, allegedly opened and maintained post office boxes to receive mail for the fake businesses.
After being issued California EDD-funded debit cards, the defendants allegedly withdrew funds from cards in the name of others. In total, they fraudulently obtained approximately $1,106,282 in unemployment insurance benefits.
If convicted on all charges, each of the eight defendants would face a maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison.