A Cook County man has been sentenced to more than five years in federal prison for his involvement in mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. Robert Carter, a 29-year-old resident of Homewood, Illinois, pleaded guilty to scheming and submitting fraudulent unemployment insurance claims to multiple government agencies. From June 2020 to March 2021, Carter and his associates used stolen Social Security numbers and dates of birth to apply for unemployment benefits under false identities. The scheme involved having the benefits paid via debit cards mailed to specific addresses connected to the group, followed by withdrawals from financial institutions and ATMs in Illinois. As part of his sentence, Carter must also pay over $1 million in restitution.
Cook County Man Sentenced to More Than Five Years in Prison
Details of the Case
A Cook County man, Robert Carter, has been sentenced to more than five years in federal prison for mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. Carter, 29, of Homewood, Illinois, pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Philip G. Reinhard to 64 months in prison. He has also been ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution. The case involves a scheme in which Carter and others submitted fraudulent unemployment insurance claims using the Social Security numbers and dates of birth of unsuspecting individuals.
Charges and Plea Agreement
Robert Carter and his co-conspirators were charged with mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. In his plea agreement, Carter admitted to participating in the scheme from June 2020 through March 2021. The fraudulent unemployment insurance claims were submitted to the California Employment Development Department, the Maryland Division of Unemployment Insurance, and the Virginia Employment Commission. Carter used the personal information of others without their knowledge or consent to apply for the benefits.
Sentence and Restitution
As part of his sentence, Robert Carter has been sentenced to 64 months in federal prison for his involvement in the scheme. In addition, he has been ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution to the victims of the identity theft. The sentence and restitution highlight the seriousness of the crimes committed and serve as a deterrent to individuals engaged in similar fraudulent activities.
Introduction to Mail Fraud
Mail fraud is a federal offense that involves using the United States Postal Service or other mail carriers to carry out a fraudulent scheme. It is a crime under 18 U.S.C. Section 1341 and is punishable by fines and imprisonment. Mail fraud often involves schemes to defraud individuals or organizations of money or property by using the mail to communicate false information or promises.
Introduction to Aggravated Identity Theft
Aggravated identity theft is a specific offense under federal law that occurs when someone uses the identification of another person during and in relation to certain crimes. The crime is prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. Section 1028A and carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in addition to any sentence for the underlying offense. Aggravated identity theft is a serious crime that can have long-lasting effects on the victims.
Timeline of the Scheme
The fraudulent scheme orchestrated by Robert Carter and his co-conspirators took place from June 2020 to March 2021. During this period, they submitted fraudulent unemployment insurance claims to various state agencies, including the California Employment Development Department, the Maryland Division of Unemployment Insurance, and the Virginia Employment Commission. The scheme involved the use of stolen personal information to apply for unemployment benefits.
Victims of Identity Theft
The victims of identity theft in this case are individuals whose personal information was used without their knowledge or consent to apply for unemployment benefits. These victims may have faced significant financial and emotional stress as a result of the scheme. The restitution ordered by the court will help compensate these victims for the losses they suffered.
Unemployment Insurance Claims
The fraudulent unemployment insurance claims were submitted to state agencies responsible for administering unemployment benefits. These claims were made using stolen personal information, such as Social Security numbers and dates of birth. The scheme aimed to exploit the system and unlawfully obtain financial assistance meant for individuals in need.
Benefit Fund Withdrawals
Once the fraudulent unemployment benefits were approved, Robert Carter and his co-conspirators opted to have the benefits paid via debit cards. These debit cards were mailed to addresses connected to Carter and others involved in the scheme. Carter then proceeded to withdraw funds from the debit cards at financial institutions and ATMs in Illinois. The scheme allowed the perpetrators to access and misuse the funds intended for legitimate unemployment claimants.
Investigation and Arrest
Government Agencies Involved
Several government agencies collaborated to investigate and arrest Robert Carter and his co-conspirators. The agencies involved in the case include the Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. The coordinated efforts of these agencies were critical in identifying and apprehending the individuals responsible for the fraudulent scheme.
Collaboration and Partnership
The successful investigation and arrest of Robert Carter and his co-conspirators demonstrate the power of collaboration and partnership between government agencies. The agencies involved pooled their resources, expertise, and intelligence to uncover the fraud and bring the perpetrators to justice. This collaborative approach is essential in combating complex financial crimes and protecting the interests of the American public.
Statement from Special Agent-in-Charge
Irene Lindow, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Region of the Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General, has issued a statement regarding the case. She highlighted the gravity of Robert Carter’s actions, stating that he engaged in a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $1 million in unemployment insurance funds by using the identities of theft victims. Lindow expressed gratitude to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their partnership and collaboration in investigating these types of crimes.
Implications of the Crime
Amount of Fraudulent Claims
The fraudulent scheme involving Robert Carter and his co-conspirators resulted in more than $1 million in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims. This substantial amount highlights the scale and severity of the fraud committed. The investigation and prosecution of cases involving such significant amounts of financial loss are crucial to deter would-be criminals and protect the integrity of the system.
Federal Assistance During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The unemployment insurance benefits targeted by the fraudulent scheme were part of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These benefits were intended to provide financial relief to American workers who lost their jobs or experienced reduced work hours due to the pandemic. The fraudulent actions of individuals like Robert Carter divert resources meant for those in genuine need and undermine the effectiveness of federal assistance programs.
Impact on American Workers
The fraudulent scheme orchestrated by Robert Carter and his co-conspirators has had a direct impact on American workers. By unlawfully obtaining unemployment benefits, the perpetrators drained funds that could have supported individuals facing financial hardships during the pandemic. This diversion of resources jeopardizes the welfare of American workers and undermines the trust in government assistance programs.
Embezzlement from Washington Federal Bank
In a related case, two real estate developers were convicted of conspiring to embezzle millions from the failed Washington Federal Bank in Chicago. The federal investigation into the collapse of the bank led to criminal charges against 16 defendants. The case highlights the need for robust measures to prevent and investigate financial crimes, ensuring the integrity of the banking system.
Fraudulent Disability Benefits
Another related case involved a former railroad employee who was sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison for fraudulently obtaining disability benefits. The case was part of a broader probe into fraud involving benefit programs administered by the Railroad Retirement Board. Cases like these emphasize the importance of strict oversight and investigation to prevent fraudulent claims.
Two Illinois businessmen were charged in a $7.8 million COVID-relief fraud case. The individuals allegedly engaged in fraud related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), designed to provide financial support to businesses impacted by the pandemic. This case underscores the need for heightened vigilance and enforcement to protect federal relief funds from abuse.
Details of the U.S. Attorney’s Office
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois played a significant role in the investigation and prosecution of Robert Carter and his co-conspirators. For more information about the office, its mission, and its services, individuals can contact:
- Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division
- Address: 219 S. Dearborn St., 5th Floor Chicago, IL 60604
- Phone: (312) 353-5300
- Northern District of Illinois Western Division
- Address: 327 S. Church Street, Room 3300 Rockford, IL 61101
- Phone: (815) 987-4444
Contact Information for Northern District of Illinois
For individuals seeking specific information or assistance related to the case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois can be reached at:
- Chicago: (312) 353-5300
- Rockford: (815) 987-4444
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To stay updated on the latest news, updates, and announcements from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, individuals can follow their social media accounts on platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn. These platforms provide a convenient way to receive timely information and engage with the office.
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