Theft by Deception

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In general terms, theft by deception is an intentional act by which someone creates or uses false information to obtain something, whether it is a service or a piece of property. There are several ways to commit this type of crime including: writing bad checks on an account that no longer exists; faking educational credentials to get a job; or failing to truthfully fill out a government benefits application are just a few examples. An article published by the Portland Press Herald explains how a Maine man was convicted of theft by deception by collecting state unemployment benefits while working.

In Maine, any fraud involving amounts of $1,000 or more is considered a felony. The fraudster in this case collected more than $2,500 in unemployment benefits he did not qualify for nor deserve because he already had a job. (Most likely he forgot to tell the Department of Labor that he had returned to work. This is really irritating because this man was taking money away from people who truly needed it.)

The 49-year-old man struck a plea deal and pleaded guilty to one of two counts of theft by deception. The second count was dropped and he was sentenced to three years in state prison. However, the prison sentence was suspended pending the completion of a two-year probation term. He was allowed to remain free on custody after paying full restitution of $2,587 to the Maine Department of Labor. (He got lucky.)

Apparently, the fraudster was already on probation for pleading guilty to another felony charge for theft. It appears that he stole books from the University of New England.He will begin his new probation sentence following the completion of his probation for the book theft.

According to the story, the Maine Department of Labor has already collected $63,497 from unemployment fraud prosecutions through July of this year. More than $67,000 is expected to be collected from similar cases from 2013. Currently, there are 88 criminal fraud cases pending in state courts. (Maine has improved their fraud prosecution and prevention rates through better reporting systems. They are able to cross-match multiple databases to identify potential fraud.)

Unemployment fraud is costly, not only to those people who have paid into the system and should receive benefits while unemployed, but also to businesses who have to pay unemployment taxes that help to fund the benefits. Let’s hope this fraudster has learned his lesson.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Portland Man Convicted of Unemployment Fraud Gets Probation,” written by Scott Dolan and published by the Portland Press Herald on August 12, 2014.

A Portland man accused of fraudulently collecting state unemployment benefits while he continued to work was convicted recently of a felony charge of theft by deception.

Tracy Young, 49, of 35 Cypress St., pleaded guilty July 28 at the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland to a single count of theft by deception as part of a plea agreement in which a second identical count was dismissed.

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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.