DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. — Three Dauphin County residents have been charged with committing pandemic unemployment assistance fraud by the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General.
The suspects fraudulently applied for and received more than $140,000 in PUA funding, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Friday in a press release.
Tyreese Lewis, 20, and Dorien Ervin, 21, both of Harrisburg, are facing charges along with Kymaury Goldsby, 21, of Highspire, Shaprio said. All three used stolen or solicited personal information to apply for benefits.
They also each used their own names to apply -- even though they were not eligible to receive the benefits because they were not out of work due to the pandemic, according to Shapiro.
“These defendants took advantage of a program meant to help Pennsylvania families put food on the table,” Shapiro said. “We’re committed to shutting down scammers and protecting public funds wherever they’re found.”
Lewis completed or assisted individuals in completing 19 applications using others’ personal information, Shapiro said. Additionally, he applied for multiple business loans through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, falsely claiming that he had businesses that were suffering due to COVID-19, according to Shapiro.
Between May 2020 and March 2021, Lewis fraudulently obtained and assisted others in obtaining $147,250 in PUA benefits, Shapiro said. This amount includes the funds issued for the applications in the defendants’ own names and those submitted using others’ personal information.
To date, the Office of Attorney General has charged 35 individuals, including 24 inmates and their accomplices, across the Commonwealth for submitting fraudulent PUA applications amounting to more than $3.2 million in illegally obtained PUA funds.
The PUA Act is a federal program created as part of the CARES Act. The PUA program provides unemployment benefits to workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (DLI) is administered the PUA program, but its benefits are funded in large part by the federal government.
Individuals are only eligible for PUA benefits if they are both unemployed for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic and available to work. An individual must access the PUA website and file a PUA claim to receive benefits. The applicant is required to enter personally identifiable information as well as answer the eligibility questions.
All three defendants were charged with theft by unlawful taking, criminal conspiracy to commit theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, criminal conspiracy to commit theft by deception, and access device fraud. Lewis was also charged with corrupt organizations, identity theft, tampering with public records, and criminal use of a communication facility.