The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) aided in the investigation of a scheme involving using stolen identities to file fraudulent Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims. Working with the U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Inspector General, IRS-Criminal Investigation (CI), FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), TWC’s Special Investigations Unit identified the scheme that used stolen identities to file fraudulent UI claims against fictitious companies.
Four individuals from the Houston area including, Andrea Brooks, Trenecia Moore, Michael Muniz and Alisia Reed were investigated and indicted for conspiracy to commit access device fraud.
Brooks was sentenced by the Western District, San Antonio to 121 months in federal prison, and ordered to pay $361,597 restitution to TWC, Moore was sentenced to 23 months in prison and ordered to pay $716,054 in restitution, while Muniz was sentenced to 12 months and a day in prison, and ordered to pay $361,597 in restitution. Each will also serve an additional three-year term of supervised release after completing their prison term. Reed is still awaiting sentencing, which is scheduled for Sept. 11, 2018, and could be ordered to pay approximately $720,037 in restitution.
“TWC is committed to the integrity of the UI program and prosecuting individuals who engage in fraud,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “Preserving the UI Trust Fund for the employers and workers of Texas is a top priority.”
TWC’s Regulatory Integrity Division (RID) is charged with detecting and preventing fraud, waste and abuse. RID enforces all regulatory statutes within the jurisdiction of the agency, including Tax, Workforce, Trade Act, Skills Development Fund, Self-Sufficiency Fund, Child Care Development Fund and all other programs that TWC administers. Prevention, detection, and elimination of fraud, waste and abuse in the UI benefits program are top priorities; ensuring funds are available exclusively to those who meet the eligibility requirements.
“Through the hard work of the Regulatory Integrity Division at TWC, we are able to deter fraud and provide the employers and workers of Texas with the services they need,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs. “As a result of this interagency effort, we have demonstrated our commitment to catch and prosecute those who would defraud the taxpayers of Texas.”
“The Texas Workforce Commission is steadfast in its efforts to prevent UI fraud,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “TWC will continue to work with employers to detect and investigate any potential fraudulent activity.”
Debt to the state does not go away unless it is paid. The Texas Constitution prohibits forgiving such debt, and TWC continues to pursue and collect overpayments indefinitely. Examples of reportable violations can be found on the TWC website at Reporting Fraud.
To report suspected fraud, waste or program abuse in any of the TWC programs, call the TWC Fraud and Program Abuse Hotline at 800-252-3642.