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Providence Man Admits to Fraudulently Applying for COVID Unemployment Benefits

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The FINANCIAL — A Providence man admitted in federal court today that he fraudulently filed an application for unemployment benefits provided for by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha.

Deeshawn Gadson, 32, pled guilty to wire fraud.

According to charging documents, in April 2020, Gadson, who lived and worked in Rhode Island, submitted online applications to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT) for benefits made available by the CARES Act. In May 2020, Gadson began receiving benefits from RIDLT. He received approximately $20,302 in unemployment benefits.

In June 2020, Gadson submitted a fraudulent online application to the Arizona State Department of Economic Security, falsely stating that he lived and worked in Arizona. Gadson was paid $7,170 in PAU program benefits that he was not legally entitled to receive.

Gadson is scheduled to be sentenced on April 25, 2022.

This case, as well as other instances of criminal activity related to fraudulent applications for pandemic-related unemployment insurance benefits are being investigated jointly by the FBI, Rhode Island State Police, and the U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General. Cases are jointly reviewed, charged, and prosecuted by a team of prosecutors that include Assistant U.S. Attorneys Denise M. Barton, Stacey P. Veroni, and G. Michael Seaman, and Rhode Island Assistant Attorney General John M. Moreira, chief of the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit.

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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 financialcrimes@risp.govor the FBI Providence office at (401) 272-8310.

On May 17, 2021, the United States 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.

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