Monday, February 28, 2022

Federal Officials Warn Billions Stolen From COVID Unemployment Benefits Through Fraud; 3 San Fernando Valley Fugitives Convicted in $18M COVID Relief Fraud Case Captured in Montenegro, and other C-Virus related stories

Associated Press
Federal officials warn billions stolen from COVID unemployment benefits through fraud:
Federal officials warned Tuesday that as much as $80 billion in unemployment benefits could have fraudulently gone to cybercriminals and international crime rings.
Officials from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the U.S. Secret Service say improper accountability measures at the federal and state levels aided the fraud throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“Criminals exploit opportunities that lead to profit and this public health crisis presented an unprecedented opportunity for both organized criminal groups and individuals,” said Roy Dotson, the U.S. Secret Service’s national pandemic-fraud recovery coordinator.
Federal officials note that fraudulent activities skyrocketed after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. International syndicates and cyberhackers quickly set up fake profiles, using pilfered personal information, to steal billions from the federal government.
Much of the tactics were already well known to law enforcement agencies since cybercriminals had previously used them to bilk money from disaster relief programs. The criminals had previously not targeted unemployment because of the small nature of the payout, but that changed because of the pandemic. --->READ MORE HERE
3 San Fernando Valley fugitives convicted in $18M COVID relief fraud case captured in Montenegro:
Three members of an Encino-based fraud ring who went on the lam after being convicted of stealing more than $18 million in COVID-19 relief loans have been captured in Montenegro.
Richard Ayvazyan, 43, and his wife and co-defendant Marietta Terabelian, 37, have been missing since Aug. 29. The couple had been convicted at trial, but were granted release to await sentencing.
Tamara Dadyan, a 42-year-old Encino real estate broker, was sentenced in December to nearly 11 years in prison for her role in the eight-member family fraud ring, but was allowed to remain free pending her Jan. 28 surrender to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
She apparently dropped out of sight just before she was due to turn herself in last month.
"I can confirm that the three fugitives wanted for their roles in a scheme to defraud the government of several million dollars in COVID relief funds, two of whom fled after conviction and were sentenced to federal prison, and a third who fled after failing to report to serve her sentence in federal prison, were arrested in the country of Montenegro,'' said Nicole Navas Oxman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice. "We are seeking their extradition,'' she said. --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

CDC Announces Indoor Masking No Longer Required Just Before Biden’s SOTU

Pfizer, Moderna and Other Drugmakers Make Billions Responding to Covid-19 Pandemic

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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