LOS ANGELES – A Moreno Valley woman is expected to plead guilty Thursday to her role in a scheme to obtain $1.1 million in unemployment benefits using sham companies.
Catrina Gipson, 46, has agreed to enter her plea to one federal count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
From February 2013 until July 2016, the defendant and her associates allegedly registered fake businesses with the California Employment Development Department, the administrator of the federal unemployment insurance benefit program for the state.
The names of the bogus companies included Latasha’s Devining Cleaning Service, Charm Boutique, and Infinite Cleaning Service, according to the indictment, filed in L.A. federal court.
Three of the eight defendants allegedly opened and maintained post office boxes responsible for receiving the fake businesses’ mail, prosecutors said.
Three others filed claims for unemployment insurance in their own names, claiming unemployment from the fake businesses created by the co- conspirators, the indictment alleges. Other times, the conspirators allegedly filed unemployment insurance claims using the names of other people, including prison inmates.
After being supplied California EDD-funded debit cards, the defendants allegedly withdrew funds from the cards that were in the name of other claimants. In total, the defendants fraudulently obtained over $1.1 million in unemployment insurance benefits, according to the indictment.