A United States Postal Service mail carrier from Palmdale was arrested Thursday for allegedly scheming to steal about $800,000 in unemployment insurance funds by using false claims of COVID-related job losses and stealing debit cards from the U.S. mail, officials said.
Stephen Glover, 32, who worked at the Valencia post office, and Travis McKenzie, 26, of Valencia, who lived on Glover’s mail delivery route, are expected to make their initial court appearances Thursday afternoon in downtown Los Angeles.
A criminal complaint filed on May 13 and unsealed after Thursday’s arrests charges both Glover and McKenzie with one count of mail fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
From August 2020 to February 2021, Glover and McKenzie fraudulently obtained debit cards issued by the California Employment Development Department (EDD), which administers the state’s unemployment insurance program, according to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint.
The debit cards were issued based on applications for pandemic-related unemployment benefits submitted using approximately 50 stolen identities and containing false statements claiming COVID-related job losses, the affidavit states.
The EDD debit cards were issued in the names of victims, some of whom had never resided in, worked in, or even visited California.
Glover and McKenzie allegedly split the cash withdrawn using the EDD debit cards, some of which had balances exceeding $30,000, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The scheme allegedly involved more than 50 fraudulent claims to EDD, which resulted in EDD issuing cards that had approximately $798,733 in funds in those names, of which at least $318,771 has been withdrawn from the debit cards, according to a news release.
Glover also allegedly stole mail containing more than $20,000 in personal and business checks belonging to others, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Law enforcement executed search warrants at the residences of Glover, McKenzie, and Glover’s girlfriend in the spring of 2021, during which they found more than 200 pieces of stolen and EDD-related mail, including more than 15 EDD debit cards, according to the affidavit.
In addition to defrauding the California EDD, Glover and McKenzie’s scheme also fraudulently obtained debit cards from the Virginia Employment Commission, the affidavit alleges.
If convicted of the mail fraud offense alleged in the complaint, Glover and McKenzie would each face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
The matter was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, the California Employment Development Department Investigations, and the L.A. Sheriff’s Department.