New York Man Faces Identity Theft Charges And Other Serious Felony Charges In $1.9 Million COVID-19 Fraud Scheme
A 40-year-old New Yorker, Yohauris Rodriguez Hernandez, was charged with aggravated identity theft and other serious felony charges for attempting a COVID-19 fraud scheme that was meant to steal over $1.9 million from the New York State Department of Labor and other state agencies tasked with the administration of unemployment benefits. The 40-year-old New Yorker was arrested and charged after authorities found incriminating evidence in an abandoned Yonkers hotel room.
According to a court complaint, from February 2020 through December 2020, Yohauris Rodriguez Hernandez and a co-conspirator engaged in a fraud scheme they hoped would enable them to obtain COVID-19 unemployment benefits. From February 2020 to December 2020, Yohauris and his co-conspirator fraudulently filed and verified applications using the names and social security numbers of at least 100 other people. Over the course of this time, the two exchanged images, text messages, and other communications that included, among others, personal identification information such as social security numbers, names, and dates of birth, that were used in connection with the fraud scheme. According to the complaint, the fraudulent scheme resulted in fraudulent claims for approximately $1.9 million and the fraudulent disbursement of over $500,000 in COVID-19 unemployment benefits.
As alleged in the court complaint, law enforcement officers learned about the scheme in December 2020 after Yohauris and his partner in crime fled from a Yonkers hotel. When the two ran away, they left behind hundreds of NYS DOL mails, which contained information and state-issued debit cards for almost 76 people. Staff at the hotel found the mail and the debit cards and called the police.
The 40-year-old New Yorker is charged with;
- Conspiracy to commit wire fraud. This crime carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
- Conspiracy to commit theft of government benefits. This crime carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
- Aggravated identity theft. This crime carries a mandatory two-year consecutive sentence.
The consecutive sentence mandate associated with aggravated identity theft means that if Yohauris is convicted of aggravated identity theft and any of the other crimes, these two years will be placed on top of the sentence he receives for the other offense.
Even though a judge will determine Yohauris’ sentencing, chances are, he will not spend less than 30 years in prison if convicted of all crimes.
The United States Department of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance Program
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance Program exists to provide unemployment benefits to eligible workers who lose their jobs because of no fault of their own and meet certain other eligibility requirements. Because fraud diverts benefits meant for those workers who are qualified to receive them, the government does not take claims of fraud against the Unemployment Insurance Program lightly. The government is very keen on finding those who exploit the Unemployment Insurance Program. In a statement made during the unsealing of the complaint against Yohauris, DOL-OIG Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Mellone said that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) will continue working closely with law enforcement partners to investigate those who exploit the Unemployment Insurance Program.
Contact an NYC Criminal Defense Attorney
Are you facing identity theft charges, conspiracy to commit wire fraud charges, conspiracy to commit theft of government benefits charges, or any other related charges? If so, contact the skilled and dedicated NYC criminal defense attorney, Mark I. Cohen, for legal representation.