AG Shapiro Has Charged 35 Individuals with PUA Fraud to Date
HARRISBURG—Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that the Office of Attorney General has filed charges against three Dauphin County residents for fraudulently applying for and receiving more than $140,000 in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) funding.
“These defendants took advantage of a program meant to help Pennsylvania families put food on the table,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “We’re committed to shutting down scammers and protecting public funds wherever they’re found.”
The Office charged Tyreese Lewis, 20, Kymaury Goldsby, 21, and Dorien Ervin, 21, with fraudulently applying for and receiving PUA benefits using stolen and solicited personal information. They each also applied for benefits using their own names, even though they were not eligible to receive the benefits because they had not been out of work due to the pandemic.
Lewis completed or assisted individuals in completing 19 applications using others’ personal information. Additionally, Lewis applied for multiple business loans through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, falsely claiming that he had businesses that were suffering due to COVID-19. Between May 2020 and March 2021, Lewis fraudulently obtained and assisted others in obtaining $147,250 in PUA benefits. This amount includes the funds issued for the applications in the defendants’ own names, as well as those submitted using others’ personal information.
To date, the Office of Attorney General has charged 35 individuals, including 24 inmates and their accomplices, across the Commonwealth for submitting fraudulent PUA applications amounting to more than $3.2 million in illegally obtained PUA funds.
The PUA Act is a federal program created as part of the CARES Act. The PUA program provides unemployment benefits to workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In Pennsylvania, the PUA program is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (DLI), but its benefits are funded in large part by the federal government.
Individuals are only eligible for PUA benefits if they are both unemployed for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic and available to work. In order to receive benefits, an individual must access the PUA website and file a PUA claim. The applicant is required to enter personally identifiable information as well as answer the eligibility questions.
All three defendants were charged with Theft by Unlawful Taking, Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Unlawful Taking, Theft by Deception, Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Deception, and Access Device Fraud. Lewis was also charged with Corrupt Organizations, Identity Theft, Tampering With Public Records, and Criminal Use of a Communication Facility. This case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Megan Madaffari. All charges are accusations. The defendants are innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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