“This one case represents half of the fraudulent DUA cases we uncovered following the catastrophic flood event of 2016,” said LWC Executive Director Ava Dejoie.
A scheme to collect more than $150,000 in federal disaster assistance following the August 2016 floods has ended with the jury conviction of a 38-year-old Independence, La. woman.
Renata Foreman was convicted Thursday of multiple wire fraud and aggravated identity theft counts after a three-day trial in U.S. District Court.
Foreman’s scheme, which included submitting 55 claims for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) by using stolen identities, was uncovered by employees of the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC), which administered the federal assistance program. Within a month of the flood disaster, an LWC employee reviewing DUA claims noticed suspicious activity on a number of claims, with evidence that one person had filed multiple claims. A second LWC employee who specializes in fraud investigations discovered additional similarities among the claims, with several Social Security numbers used belonging to deceased individuals.
“This one case represents half of the fraudulent DUA cases we uncovered following the catastrophic flood event of 2016,” said LWC Executive Director Ava Dejoie. “Thanks to the sharp eyes of our trained staff and the strong cooperation among the various units of our agency, we were able to help right this wrong and stop this individual from taking advantage of a disaster that affected so many.”
The LWC worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDOL) Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to prosecute the case.
“Close cooperation with our state partners such as the LWC is the only way we can truly combat this type of fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Brandon J. Fremin.
During the trial, jurors heard testimony and saw evidence that Foreman used information in her scheme from logs and notebooks she kept with personally identifiable information on numerous people, then submitted the claims from multiple locations in New Orleans and the surrounding area. At the time she was submitting the fraudulent claims, Foreman was living in a federal halfway house after her conviction in 2013 for mail fraud, theft of government funds and identity theft.
The LWC actively investigates suspected incidences of unemployment and workers’ compensation fraud in Louisiana. To learn more about characteristics of improper unemployment payments and methods of prevention, go to www.itsyourjobtoknow.com. You can also report suspected fraud via the website, or by calling 800-201-3362.
Contributed by the La. Workforce Commission