A 26-year-old Valencia man and 32-year-old local U.S. Postal Service worker have been arrested on a federal complaint alleging a scheme to obtain nearly $800,000 in unemployment benefits, prosecutors said on Thursday.
According to the federal affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, from August 2020 to February 2021, the two men — Stephen Glover, of Palmdale, and Travis McKenzie, of Valencia — fraudulently obtained debit cards issued by the California Employment Development Department.
“The debit cards were issued based on applications for pandemic-related unemployment benefits submitted using approximately 50 stolen identities and containing false statements claiming COVID-related job losses, the affidavit states,” prosecutors said via a press release. “The EDD debit cards were issued in the names of victims, some of whom had never resided in, worked in, or even visited California.”
Glover and McKenzie are accused of splitting the cash withdrawn using the EDD debit cards, some of which had balances exceeding $30,000.
“The scheme allegedly involved more than 50 fraudulent claims to EDD, which resulted in EDD issuing cards that had approximately $798,733 in funds in those names, of which at least $318,771 has been withdrawn from the debit cards,” the press release reads. “Glover also allegedly stole mail containing more than $20,000 in personal and business checks belonging to others.”
The search warrants for both suspects’ residences, as well as Glover’s girlfriend, netted more than 200 pieces of EDD-related mail, including 15 EDD debit cards, according to the complaint. The two men have also been connected to fraud against the Virginia Employment Commission, the release said.
The criminal complaint filed on May 13 and unsealed after Thursday’s arrests charges Glover and McKenzie with one count each of mail fraud, according to prosecutors.
“If convicted of the mail fraud offense alleged in the complaint, Glover and McKenzie would each face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison,” read the press release.