PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Editor's note: The above video is from Oct. 15.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro and the 47th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury announced on Oct. 28 that caregiver Nelson Fornah, 35, has had charges filed against him for allegedly stealing the identification information of several intellectually disabled people he cared for, in exchange for nearly $90,000 in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) funding.
The grand jury determined Fornah used the stolen and false information of seven of his disabled clients across Delaware and Montgomery counties to apply for PUA benefits. In total, Fornah received $89,418.82, according to a press release issued by Shapiro's office.
This began in July 2020, and by December of last year the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry started requesting additional verification for the PUA accounts he had opened, also according to the press release.
The grand jury learned that PUA applicants are often asked to verify their identities through ID.me, a third party vendor used to reduce fraud. ID.me uses video calls to verify identity and PUA applicants are able to speak with the vendor directly.
While in the video calls, all seven "applicants" appeared, investigators claim that someone was off camera, instructing them on what to say. The press release states that the victims all seemed "incoherent," "unaware," and in some cases, "distressed" and "confused."
In addition to submitting fraudulent PUA applications for his victims, Fornah allegedly applied for PUA benefits in his own name, although he was employed throughout the pandemic.
When he was rejected, investigators claim that he applied for standard Pennsylvania unemployment compensation benefits and received more than $14,000 as a result.