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

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Posted at 1:02 PM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 18:10:57-04

BALTIMORE — More than 1.4 million unemployment insurance claims filed in Maryland have been confirmed as fraudulent.

According to the Maryland Department of Labor, as of July 13, 1,443,211 or 92.31 percent of all out-of-state and in-state claims were confirmed as fraudulent.

During an oversight hearing in June, Senator Katherine Klausmeier asked Assistant Secretary for the Division of Unemployment Insurance Dayne Freeman whether individuals are being prosecuted for this fraud, she responded: “Yah, they've done some stings. There's been some arrests, oh yah.”

WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaiichecked with local police departments and Maryland State Police and was referred to the Department of Labor.

A spokeswoman with the Department of Labor sent Sofastaii two examples.

In June, a Greenbelt man was arrested on charges of fraudulently obtaining more than $500,000 in COVID-19 relief funds.

Mohamed Kamara is accused of submitting 50 New Jersey unemployment applications for 42 people and receiving nearly $200,000 as well as filing fraudulent applications for small business loans and grants.

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

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland informed Sofastaii that they're prosecuting a Tampa man for reportedly submitting bogus unemployment applications to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission yielding more than $176,000.

Christopher Guy allegedly used and possessed fraudulent credit and debit cards in Maryland. He’s also accused of spending more than $10,000 using 15 debit cards in 7 identity theft victims names.

And just last week, 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.

The three men reportedly received over 175 prepaid UI debit cards at one Hyattsvillle address and 57 others at another address that allegedly defrauded Maryland of $278,000.

To combat fraud, the Department has requested additional identity verification documents from claimants.

Thousands of claimants had their accounts frozen until their documents could be verified. Lexis Nexis was hired to expedite the process.

As of July 13, 24,297 claims are still pending review.