Californian woman admitted to stealing identities to get her hands on COVID relief money

On Friday, a federal judge heard the case of a Fresno woman who allegedly took over $200,000 in loans intended to help small companies get through the pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Justice reports that Cecilia Aquino pled guilty to filing false claims for unemployment insurance in at least seven states and using stolen identities to file fraudulent applications for Small Business Administration disaster loans between June and November of 2020.

The 34-year-old allegedly filed unemployment insurance claims and SBA loan applications on behalf of people who claimed to be freelance dancers and owners of interior design businesses that had to close due to the COVID-19 outbreak and had lost their jobs and incomes.

According to the Justice Department, Aquino utilized the funds for “other personal expenditures,” which likely include gaming, rent, and retail therapy. While the fraud may have cost as much as $300,000, the actual loss was only $220,000.

On the 21st of February, Aquino will be sentenced to a maximum of twenty years in jail, a fine of up to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and a required consecutive term of two years for the identity theft charge.

Source: Insurance News Net

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