First Arrests Made in Push to Reduce COVID-19 Unemployment Fraud

State News

Attorney General Jeff Landry warns Benefit Fraudsters this is just the beginning

BATON ROUGE, LA – According to the Attorney General’s Office, law enforcement officials throughout Louisiana have made several arrested related to fraudulent COVID-19 unemployment claims and have stated there are others illegally draining the Unemployment Trust Fund.

A statement was made by Attorney General Landry:

Since the public health emergency was declared, many of our neighbors fell ill and – unfortunately – thousands lost their lives. Others, who never contracted the disease, have also been impacted in numerous negative ways. Hundreds of businesses were forced to shut down and their employees lost their jobs – leading to thousands of Louisianians filing for unemployment. With record unemployment and record amounts of government benefits being paid out, the fraudsters came crawling.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry

According to AG Landry, there were a lack of safeguards which added incentive to residents to abuse the system and illegally obtain COVID-19 unemployment funds.

AG Landry cited issues of multiple checks being sent to the same addresses or bank accounts and employers getting requests to confirm unemployment for people who had never worked at their place of business as well as residents filing claims from multiple states.

Citing multiple checks being sent to the same address or same bank acc

AG Landry says, “While others may have been asleep at the wheel, we are not. We are here, we will find you, and we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law possible.”

According to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office, Kayla Giles, 33 of Alexandria, and Teri Thibodeaux, 33 of Forest Hill, have been arrested and charged with:

  • Felony Identity Theft
  • Felony Money Laundering
  • Government Benefits Fraud
  • Criminal Conspiracy

AG Landry says the pair is accused of using approximately 25 stolen identities to file fraudulent COVID-19 unemployment forms where they had obtained approximately $300,000 in multiple states.

In addition to the identity theft, the two allegedly made fraudulent claims under their own names in multiple states where Giles obtained approximately $13,000 while Thibodaux obtained approximately $37,000.

In another arrest, Demarcus Evans, 30 of Bossier City was arrested on Monday and charged with:

  • Felony Identity Theft
  • Government Benefits Fraud

He is also accused of using a female acquaintance’s personal information to fraudulently obtain COVID-19 Unemployment.

Courtesy: Attorney General’s Office

According to the Attorney General’s Office, Evans illegally obtained approximately $8,600.

Another arrest for Christina French, 41 of Florida who is a fugitive of Louisiana, was arrested Thursday for charges of:

  • Felony Money Laundering
  • Government Benefits Fraud
  • Computer Fraud

She is accused of hacking the account of a Shreveport resident for the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s website.

Courtesy: Attorney General’s Office

According to a statement from the Attorney General’s Office, French allegedly redirected the victim’s benefits to an out-of-state bank account and transferred approximately $6,000 into that fraudulent account.

Amanda Garner, 33 of Covington, was also arrested and charged with Government Benefits Fraud.

She has been accused of fraudulently filing for COVID-19 Unemployment benefits and obtained approximately $5,200 in benefits while she was still employed during the shutdown.

Courtesy: Attorney General’s Office

The Attorney General’s Office says the investigations are still ongoing and more arrests may be pending. If you know of someone who has abused the system and fraudulently obtained benefits or know of someone who has been victimized, you are asked to report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud’s hotline at 866-720-5721 or online at www.AGJeffLandry.com.

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