LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A 38-year-old Las Vegas man was arrested Friday on identity theft and unemployment fraud charges following an investigation by Las Vegas police and US Secret Serviced agents.
Vincent Okoye was in possession of illegally obtained debit cards for Nevada unemployment benefits, money orders and more than $100,000 in cash, according to a criminal complaint filed by the US Attorney’s Office.
Okoye faces two to 12 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine if convicted.
He is charged with one count of possession of a counterfeit and unauthorized access device and one count of aggravated identity theft. Okoye’s initial appearance in federal court has not yet been scheduled.
The complaint states that investigators found:
- One Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) debit card (pictured below) in Okoye’s wallet.
- Over 100 credit and debit cards not issued in Okoye’s name, including at least 11 debit cards issued by DETR and at least 12 debit cards issued by Arizona’s Department of Economic Security (Arizona’s unemployment agency).
- Over $100,000 in cash and money orders.
- At least 24 pieces of mail from DETR, bearing various names and addresses.
- Over 100 pieces of mail, bearing names and addresses not belonging to Okoye.
- A forged Canadian passport.
- Postal mailbox master keys.
“Fraud against the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) is widespread in Nevada’s unemployment benefits system,” said US Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich. “While the State begins to address vulnerabilities in its application and payment system, our office will continue working closely with our partners to prevent important federal resources from enriching fraudsters. This case is likely just the proverbial ‘tip of the iceberg’: we will track down and prosecute scammers who fraudulently obtain federal unemployment benefits.”
DETR was sued for withholding payment on unemployment claims, and criticized for slowing all payment claims as they investigated fraud. A judge has since ordered DETR to resume payments, with priority on the earliest claims.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Fang is prosecuting the case.
If you think someone is fraudulently using your identity to apply for unemployment benefits should file a complaint through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov and to DETR’s Fraud Report at:
Companies can also seek help if they think their employees the victim of unemployment fraud.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.