Mother and Daughter Charged In Unemployment Fraud Scheme

(Photo Courtesy: EDD)

(KMJ) — 29-year-old Makiah Miles of Compton and her mother, 50-year-old Apryl Weston of Santa Maria, have been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and identity theft for submitting fraudulent unemployment insurance claims to the California Employment Development Department (EDD) in the names of inmates, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, Miles is an inmate at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla.

The document says her mother took advantage of changes made to the EDD’s eligibility criteria in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and submitted the fraudulent claims from June through December 2020.

Miles is accused of obtaining the names, birth dates, and social security numbers of other inmates and then sending them to her mother to submit fraudulent claims.

The applications said that Miles and the other inmates had been self-employed as accountants, child care providers, hairdressers, and other occupations and that they recently became unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The claims were worth over $550,000.

The defendants used the money to purchase handbags, jewelry, and televisions, among other items.

This case was investigated by the FBI, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Investigative Services Unit, and the EDD.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy charge and a mandatory, two-year consecutive sentence, and an additional $250,000 for the aggravated identity theft charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Barton is prosecuting the case.