Sanctimonious and Erroneous

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Stealing money, even with the intention of paying it back, is still a crime. And the punishment can set you back further than where you started. According to a K2 Radio report of a Wyoming man, his ”benefits borrowing scheme” from the Unemployment Division cost him nearly as much in related fines and fees.

It all began when the man applied for, and was legally granted, unemployment insurance benefits in May of 2008. In December of that year, he secured a new job and began receiving income (good for him), yet failed to accurately report his earnings to the Unemployment Division. (Bad for everyone else.) By May of 2009, he was being audited.

It soon came to light that the man ”borrowed” from the state of Wyoming at least $6,500 more than the amount he was legally entitled in unemployment benefits. His response to a subsequent inquiry was that he simply hadn’t understood the exact definition of ”full-time employment”, and that he very much wanted to rectify the misunderstanding. Yet, curiously, the agency never heard back from him. (Not even ”the check is in the mail?”)

Fast forward to October of 2015. The man was before a judge, pleading guilty to fraudulently collecting unemployment benefits, yet continued to maintain that he always planned to pay back the state for his ”loan”. (Seven years is quite a long time to hold onto a $6,500 involuntary loan.) He was released on a $15,000 bond and later sentenced to one to five years of probation and 50 hours of community service, and ordered to pay $11,023 in restitution for the overpaid unemployment benefits and related penalties in addition to court costs and fees. The final cost of his crimes amounted to nearly 170% of the amount he stole from the state; a pretty hefty price to pay, in hindsight. (Would he have been better off just taking out one of those predatory ‘Payday’ loans? Eh, you do the math.)

Unemployment benefits are meant to help struggling people get back on their feet. To continue collecting checks after you’ve regained your footing takes away opportunity from truly needy individuals and families. (No wonder the road to ‘you know where’ is paved with good intentions.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on ”David Pepple Ordered To Pay $11,000 Restitution To Department of Employment,” written by Tom Morton and published by K2 Radio on January 14, 2016.

A Casper man who falsified wage reports to obtain unemployment benefits by fraud was ordered to pay restitution, serve probation and perform 50 hours of community service.

Because he had no criminal history according to the pre-sentence investigation, the judge said Pepple qualified for first-time offender status. If he completes his probation term and pays restitution, the guilty conviction will be cleared from his record.

Wilking sentenced him to one to five years probation, ordered him to pay court costs and fees, ordered him to perform 50 hours of community service, and ordered him to pay $11,023 in restitution and penalties.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.