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Three Maryland men accused of stealing $2.7 million in unemployment insurance benefits

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Posted at 10:08 AM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 10:08:38-04

BALTIMORE — Three Maryland men are facing federal charges for allegedly filing more than 600 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims resulting in $2.7 million in benefits.

According to the indictment, Gladstone Njokem of Hyattsville, Martin Tabe of Bowie, and Sylvester Atekwane of Hyattsville, impersonated victims to obtain benefits.

The defendants reportedly obtained personal identifiable information from their victims under false pretenses, including stealing personal information by falsely claiming to sell puppies.

The defendants would allegedly share this information amongst themselves and with others to submit fraudulent applications in Maryland, Michigan, and Tennessee.

Between February 2020 and February 2021, the defendants and others caused at least 600 fraudulent UI claims to be submitted in the three states as well as 16 others, amounting to more than $2.7 million in losses, according to the indictment.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and for each of the nine counts of wire fraud. The defendants each also face a mandatory sentence of two years in federal prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for aggravated identity theft.

Click here to read the full news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.

Other unemployment insurance fraud arrests
In July, WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii reported on other arrests involving fraudulent unemployment insurance claims filed in Maryland and other states.

In June, a Greenbelt man was arrested on charges of fraudulently obtaining more than $500,000 in COVID-19 relief funds and $200,000 in unemployment benefits after submitting 50 New Jersey unemployment applications

READ MORE: Several arrests made as Maryland reports 1.4 million fraudulent unemployment insurance claims

In May, a Georgia man was indicted for allegedly operating a scheme that defrauded the Maryland Division of Unemployment Insurance out of $506,000.

And in July, court documents in California were unsealed detailing an unemployment insurance fraud ring based in Maryland.
The suspects allegedly used a Hyattsville, Md. address to collect $1.4 million in unemployment benefits from Arizona, California, Maryland, and North Carolina.

As of September 21, nearly 1.6 million, or 89.5 percent, of unemployment insurance claims filed in Maryland have been confirmed as fraudulent.