A Silver Spring woman is one of eight people facing federal charges for submitting fraudulent unemployment insurance claims to the Maryland Department of Labor and California Department of Labor to receive COVID-19 dollars.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging the defendants with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Nadine Mahoro Mwamikazi, age 25, of Silver Spring, appeared at the U.S. District Court in Baltimore Monday, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, unscrupulous individuals lined their own pockets with funds intended to aid struggling families,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, Erek L. Barron.
According to the 40-count indictment, from February 2020 to October 2021 the defendants allegedly conspired to obtain numerous victim’s birthdates, social security numbers and other personal identifying information to prepare and submit fraudulent applications for unemployment insurance benefits in Maryland and California.
According to the news release, the defendants allegedly caused financial institutions to load these benefits onto debit cards and mail the cards to physical addresses provided and monitored by the defendants. Then, according to the indictment, the defendants made cash withdrawals and used the money for their own benefit.
Altogether, the defendants are charged with submitting more than 200 fraudulent claims that amounted to more than $1.6 million dollars.
If convicted, Mwamikazi faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for the conspiracy as well as each count of wire fraud and two years in federal prison consecutive to any other sentence imposed for aggravated identity theft.