Woman Admits to $145K Stimulus Check Fraud

Woman Admits to $145 K Stimulus Check Fraud

Modesto woman pleads guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in filing over $145,000 in stimulus check claims in San Francisco federal courthouse on Friday.

An indictment charging 51-year-old Sheila Denise Dunlap with a wire fraud conspiracy to file dozens of fake applications for Economic Impact (EIP) payments, better known as stimulus checks, was unsealed in May.

There is a federal measure signed into law in March 2020 to deal with the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which included an EIP scheme. As part of the CARES Act’s EIP provision, persons making less than $99,000 on their 2019 income tax returns and those with low enough income not to require a tax return were eligible for EIP money. As much as $1,200 per adult and $500 per eligible child could be received through EIP payments.

In her plea deal, Dunlap was convicted of conspiring with her son from March 2020 to July 2020; Dunlap stated she obtained other people’s personal information to apply for EIP funding. At the time, Dunlap’s son was on Death Row at San Quentin State Prison, serving a life sentence for murder.

Dunlap confessed to filing many bogus claims for EIP monies via the IRS‘s online EIP portal using the information she obtained. Dunlap named her own Bank of America to account as the recipient of the funds in each application.

In her guilty deal, Dunlap stated that her son and another emailed her a spreadsheet with the personal information of 9,043 people in April 2020.

To make the bogus EIP claims, Dunlap’s son urged him to use the personal information of the youngest adults on the EIP list as the first step. Both D.W. and Dunlap concluded that these younger, college-aged persons were likely non-filers eligible for EIP payments since they lacked sufficient income to prompt the filing of a 2018 or 2019 tax return.

In May and June of 2020, Dunlap admitted that she electronically filed 121 EIP claims using the personal information of real people, including their names and social security numbers. As a result, her bank account was debited for each fraudulent EIP claim she made. EIP payments totaled $145,200 for Dunlap.

After pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Dunlap was sentenced to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. As a result, she was sentenced to two years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000 for one count of felony identity theft, which can be served concurrently with any other term.

A court order date for Dunlap’s sentencing has been set for June 24.

Also, Read Death Penalty Possible After Suspect Admits to Shooting Pub Owner in Louisiana

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