According to the prosecutors, a sum of more than $500,000 was obtained by a woman from Southern California by stealing Social Security Numbers as well as other personal information as Covid-19 benefits. The woman named Cara Marie Kirk-Connell, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to her federal criminal charge.
Aged 32, Kirk-Connell, claims to have watched YouTube videos about how to fraudulent unemployment claims as well as surfing over the “dark web” for purchasing stolen identities. Her plea of having used an unauthorized access device was admitted in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
Kirk-Connell lives in Riverside County. She now faces a maximum of ten years in federal prison after having been sentenced in April. Though, federal sentencing guidelines particularly call for lesser time behind the bars than 10 years.
Kirk-Connell’s part of the plea consisted of her admission to procure debit cards that amount to be more than $500,000. These were procured from the California Employment Development Department using stolen personal information.
The approximate amount of money obtained via these cards and identities amounts to be $534,149, as per California EDD records. These funds were obtained under the Covid-19 related unemployment funds, out of which $270,000 has already been spent, as the affidavit filed as part of the investigation states.
These benefits, passed by Congress in March, were intended for distributing Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
According to the legislation, the unemployment benefits expanded to the class of business owners, self-employed workers as well as independent contractors, who lost their jobs and in turn, incomes that they received from the job during the coronavirus pandemic.
The statistics state how California has been one of the hardest-hit U.S. states during the recent Covid-19 surge. The last wave of the virus has killed more than 300,000 people nationwide since the spread of infections, in March month of the year.
The state-imposed lockdowns, as well as business closures, are in response to the pandemic wave that has put millions of Americans out of their work and left the U.S. economy reeling.