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Cleveland man charged with stealing over $400K in pandemic unemployment insurance benefits

Benefits were pre-loaded on bank-issued debit cards and mailed to the home of Osi Mokwunye, who then made several withdrawals from ATMs.
Credit: hafakot - stock.adobe.com

CLEVELAND — A Cleveland man has been charged with fraud for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in pandemic unemployment insurance benefits.

According to a release from U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler, Osi Mokwunye, 44, was charged with 16 counts of illegally obtaining $400,000 in pandemic unemployment insurance benefits by using other people’s personal information. 

Charges against Mokwunye include: One count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of mail fraud, five counts of wire fraud, and five counts of aggravated identity theft.

From July 2020 to November 2020, Mokwunye and his team allegedly submitted multiple fraudulent applications for pandemic unemployment benefits for the state of California and other states across the country, according to court documents.

The indictment also includes that members of the conspiracy were aware of the false information needed for the applications such as employment history and residency.

As a result, the benefits were pre-loaded on bank-issued debit cards and mailed to his home. Mokwunye then made several withdrawals from ATMs in the northern district of Ohio.

The case was investigated by the Cleveland Division of the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Erica Barnhill is serving as prosecutor.

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