A woman from Los Angeles has pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud for her part in a conspiracy to use the identities of prison inmates to fraudulently claim unemployment benefits, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.
Mykara Destiny Robinson, 24, was the 13th and final defendant to be charged in connection with this case, officials said. The other 12 defendants in the case are all from California, including such areas as Palmdale, Lynwood, South Los Angeles and Yucaipa.
The group created about 151 fake California Employment Development Department accounts and collected about $993,181 in unemployed funds.
Natalie Le Demola, a 38-year-old originally from Corona, and Carleisha Neosha Plummer, a 33-year-old from Los Angeles, were the lead defendants in the case.
The two co-conspirators, along with others, “would acquire the personal identifying information (PII), such as the names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers, of individuals, including identity theft victims, who were not eligible for UI benefits, including pandemic benefits, because they were employed, retired, or incarcerated,” according to the 39-count indictment from May 2022.
Members of the conspiracy would then use the information to submit fake online applications to the EDD for unemployment benefits.
Once the applications were approved and the EDD-funded debit cards were sent out, the defendants would withdraw the money from ATMs across Southern California.
Demola, who pled guilty to her part in the conspiracy, faces up to 30 years in federal prison on the conspiracy and bank fraud counts and another two years for an aggravated identity theft charge ahead of her July 10 sentencing hearing, officials announced.
Plummer also pleaded guilty to her part in the scheme on April 17 and faces up to 32 years in federal prison ahead of her July 10 sentencing hearing.
Authorities said that most of the defendants in the case will face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.
Robinson, who accepted a plea deal, told investigators that the conspiracy began in June 2020 and she joined two months later.
She told authorities that she and the other co-defendants would take on the identities of the prison inmates and withdraw money from Bank of America ATMs in L.A. County and other places across the southland.
A July 3 sentencing date was set for Robinson, who will face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.