Sometimes people just don’t learn from their mistakes – or their punishment.  While most inmates don’t necessarily take the time we wish they would to reflect upon what they’ve done and think of ways they can change, they may learn a bit about what’s considered right and wrong.  Unfortunately, a Virginia man didn’t learn from his mistakes and used his time in jail to commit more crime.

Today’s fraud, based on an article from Richmond Palladium-Item, follows a Richmond, Indiana man who decided to commit unemployment fraud, while he was in jail. (This should be good.) The 36-year old man was incarcerated in early March of 2009, while awaiting his trial on of forgery and theft charges.  After just five days of incarceration, he convinced his fellow inmate’s girlfriend to begin conducting unemployment fraud on his behalf (Wow, let’s not waste too much time here) and forward the collected money to his kids’ mother.  (I did it for the kids.  Yeah…right).

So, how does someone file for unemployment from jail?  According to the article, applicants may file for unemployment benefits with the state’s department of Workforce Development from any personal or public computer – they just need to include workplaces in which they have visited looking for work.  (I looked for work in the mess hall and the bathroom, none to be found.  I visited the mess hall and the bathroom.  Please send me my check.)

The man’s  little unemployment fraud scheme lasted a whopping five months until the Department of Workforce Development received an anonymous tip on August 29, 2009.  At first, he pleaded innocence (I’m innocent!  Innocent, I tell ya!  Like they haven’t heard that one before), but then was finally charged with welfare fraud in October of 2010.

He was recently sentenced to six years of jail time, with four years suspended (Boy, I think that’s a mistake!), along with two years of home detention.  (That’s a joke!  Because it gives him lots of time to learn how tax refund fraud works! Agh!) With this sentence, he must pay back a total of $14,066.89 to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.  Of that total, he will pay $1,894.64 in penalty charges; the rest is restitution from the funds that were illegally received.

So, here’s the big issue:  the fraudster in this case was sitting in the county jail at the time he applied for unemployment, but the fraud was discovered from a tip – not through an eligibility verification process.  Could the same thing happen in your state?

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