Providence Resident Sentenced For Pandemic-Related Benefits Fraud and Aggravated ID Theft
PROVIDENCE – A Providence man who, with others, fraudulently applied for over $90,000 in pandemic-relief unemployment benefits, and who actually received over $30,000 of those benefits, some of which he boasted that he used to purchase firearms, an iPhone and marijuana, has been sentenced to two years in federal prison, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha.
According to court documents, Rashaad Hill, 23, who had been employed in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts prior to the start of the pandemic, fraudulently applied for and received $31,540 in pandemic-relief benefits from the states of Arizona and California. Hill and others shared stolen identities – including names, dates of birth, addresses, and Social Security numbers – when filing some fraudulent benefits claims.
According to court filings, Hill used some of his ill-gotten unemployment benefits to purchase, among other things, four firearms, boasting in text messages to his friends, “I got an iPhone and my stimmy went to weed and guns.”
Hill pleaded guilty on July 27, 2022, to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; wire fraud; aggravated identity theft; and theft of government funds. He was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Chief Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., to 24 months of incarceration to be followed by 12 months of supervised release. Hill was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $34,500.
These matters and other cases of alleged criminal activity related to fraudulent applications for unemployment insurance benefits due to the pandemic are being investigated jointly by the FBI and Rhode Island State Police, with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Labor. Cases are jointly reviewed, charged, and prosecuted by a team of prosecutors to include Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stacey A. Erickson, Denise M. Barton, G. Michael Seaman, and Rhode Island Assistant Attorney General John M. Moreira, chief of the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit.
Rhode Islanders who believe their personal identification has been stolen and used to fraudulently obtain unemployment benefits are urged to contact the Rhode Island State Police at [email protected] or the FBI Providence office at (401) 272-8310.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID- 19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
Originally published at https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/boston/news/providence-resident-sentenced-for-pandemic-related-benefits-fraud-and-aggravated-id-theft