Corona Man Charged in $2 Million COVID Relief Unemployment Scam

City News Service

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A 29-year-old Corona man accused of orchestrating a
scheme to steal more than $2 million in unemployment benefits intended for
those left jobless during the coronavirus pandemic was arrested today on a 14-
count federal indictment.

Robert Campbell Jr. was slated to make his initial appearance
Wednesday afternoon at U.S. District Court in downtown Riverside.

Campbell was among eight people charged with mail fraud, aggravated
identity theft and conspiracy to commit mail fraud following a multi-agency
investigation that included the Office of the Inspector General of the
California Employment Development Department, the U.S. Postal Service and the
U.S. Secret Service.

According to prosecutors, from March 2020 to July 2021, Campbell led
his cohorts in allegedly exploiting the expanded eligibility for unemployment
insurance benefits provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic
Security — CARES — Act signed into law by former President Donald Trump in
March 2020.

Monetary aid was available under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
and Lost Wage Assistance programs.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleged that the conspirators obtained the
personally identifiable information, or PII, of dozens of  individuals,
including names, birth dates and Social Security numbers. Some of the claimants
did not reside in California and included a prisoner in Texas and a homeless
man, prosecutors said.

Applications were falsified to show claimants’ had annual incomes of
at least $42,000, and that they were self-employed and financially impacted,
suffering hardships, when the public health lockdowns began, according to the
prosecution. Locations of the fictional businesses were allegedly made up by
Campbell and his co-conspirators.

The individuals’ PII details were utilized to file unemployment
claims, leading to “174 fraudulent applications to be filed with EDD,
resulting in 125 fraudulent claims to be paid to 116 unique claimants, causing
losses of approximately $2,091,436,” according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office

If convicted, Campbell and the others could face more than 30 years in
federal prison.

State auditors have estimated the losses due to fraudulent CARES
unemployment relief funding claims to be at least $20 billion, with money going
to numerous parties outside California, prisoners and jail detainees.

Investigations have culminated in multiple state and federal
convictions, with cases still awaiting adjudication in Riverside County.

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

CNS-07-06-2022 14:39

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