Moreno Valley Woman Sentenced to Prison for Unemployment Insurance Scam

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MORENO VALLEY (CNS) - A Moreno Valley woman was sentenced Thursday in downtown Los Angeles to 54 months in prison for her role in a scheme to obtain $1.1 million in unemployment benefits using sham companies.

Catrina Gipson, 47, was also ordered to pay $1.1 million in restitution, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

She pleaded guilty last summer to one federal count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

From February 2013 until July 2016, the defendant registered fake businesses with the California Employment Development Department, the administrator of the federal unemployment insurance benefit program for the state.

The names of the bogus companies included Latasha's Devining Cleaning Service, Charm Boutique and Infinite Cleaning Service, according to the indictment filed in Los Angeles federal court.

As part of the scheme, three of the eight defendants in the case opened and maintained post office boxes responsible for receiving the fake businesses' mail, prosecutors said.

Three others filed claims for unemployment insurance in their own names, claiming unemployment from the fake businesses created by the co- conspirators, the indictment says. Other times, the conspirators allegedly filed unemployment insurance claims using the names of other people, including prison inmates.

After being supplied California EDD-funded debit cards, the defendants withdrew funds from the cards that were in the name of other claimants. In total, the defendants fraudulently obtained over $1.1 million in unemployment insurance benefits, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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