Fort Smith Woman Sentenced to More Than 3 Years In Federal Prison For Pandemic Benefits Fraud Scheme
FORT SMITH (STL.News) A Fort Smith woman was sentenced on December 8, 2021 to 41 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $120,978.00 in restitution following her guilty plea to one count of Wire Fraud. The Honorable Judge P.K. Holmes III presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Fort Smith.
According to court documents, Fort Smith Police encountered Jasmin Molina, 26, in possession of identity documents and banking information belonging to unwitting victims. Molina used the documents to file for pandemic related unemployment benefits from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (ADWS) and directed benefits payments to bank accounts under her control. Using login information from the ADWS web portal, law enforcement was able to connect Molina to numerous benefits applications she made using others’ identities.
These benefits, called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) are authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March 2020, and are intended for those have become unemployed for reasons related to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement.
The Fort Smith Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations Fort Smith Division, U.S. Department of Labor and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Hunter Bridges prosecuted the case.