Former Arizona man pleads guilty in federal court for unemployment fraud scheme

Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 12:56 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A former Arizona man pleaded guilty in a federal courtroom earlier this week to various counts of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Federal prosecutors say James McAuliffe, 55, was part of a scheme to steal identities of Maine residents and file fraudulent unemployment insurance claims.

McAuliffe is alleged to have filed false claims between January and November 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the alleged fraud, he would reportedly order replacement driver’s licenses with the Maine DMV, then have ID and debit cards sent to a different address. At that point, “McAuliffe had the UI benefits loaded onto debit cards and wired into an account he opened in another person’s name and withdrew the funds at ATMs in Arizona,” the feds explained.

McAuliffe was living in Kansas when he was arrested, federal authorities said. After Tuesday’s guilty plea, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250.000.

Meanwhile, a coordinated enforcement effort to combat COVID-19 fraud continues across the U.S. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice announced charges against a total of 371 defendants regarding $836 million in fraud.

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