Dead grandmother’s ID used by grandson to steal thousands in benefits, CT officials say

Photo from the CT Department of Labor

A Connecticut man used the identities of multiple people — including his dead relatives — to collect significant sums of government benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, state officials said.

The man, a 40-year-old shoreline resident, is accused of fraudulently obtaining $72,028 in unemployment benefits using the identities of his deceased parents, deceased grandmother and two other living individuals, according to a Jan. 25 news release from the state’s division of criminal justice.

An attorney for the man could not immediately be reached for comment by McClatchy News on Jan. 26.

As part of his scheme, he reportedly set up a property management company to be listed as the employer on his benefit claims.

The claims covered an eight month period in 2020 during which unemployment benefits were substantially increased because of to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.

He was charged with several counts of unemployment fraud, identity theft and larceny.

After he failed to appear in court for these charges on Jan. 25, a judge ordered that he be re-arrested, officials said. He is currently incarcerated.

In addition to his most recent charges, he also faces charges in over a dozen other cases in Connecticut and has a lengthy criminal record, including convictions related to identity theft, forgery and larceny, according to the release.

The man also purportedly advised at least five other people to commit unemployment fraud during the pandemic, officials said. Four of them have been arrested.

Cases of unemployment fraud facilitated through identity theft rose sharply during the early days of the pandemic, according to the FBI.

An estimated $45 billion, or roughly double NASA’s annual budget, worth of unemployment benefits were fraudulently obtained during the pandemic, according to a September Department of Labor report.

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