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NJ Resident Receives Prison Sentence for COVID-19 Related Fraud Schemes in CA and NJ

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California, 40-year-old Eric Michael Jaklitsch of Elizabeth, NJ has officially been sentenced to prison for 6 years and 9 months in connection with two COVID-19 fraud schemes, one in California and one in New Jersey.

The details of the two schemes are highlighted below:

California EDD Case

  • “According to court documents, between October 2020 and December 2021, Jaklitsch executed his first fraud scheme by filing at least 180 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims with California Employment Development Department (EDD), seeking Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and other benefits under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. During the scheme, Jaklitsch collected personally identifiable information (PII) of numerous individuals from the dark web — including names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers — and used their identities to file fraudulent unemployment insurance claims. Typically these unemployment insurance claims were fraudulent because the claimants were not unemployed, they were not eligible for California unemployment insurance benefits, or Jaklitsch never had authority to file claims on their behalf.”

  • “Since at least October 2020, EDD has partnered with — a private company used by the EDD for ID verification of claimants — to implement a system for verifying claimant identities before EDD can process unemployment insurance claims. An internal investigation conducted by identified Jaklitsch as a person conducting a possible fraud scheme and referred the case to federal law enforcement.”

  • “In executing his fraudulent scheme, Jaklitsch submitted false information to Jaklitsch requested that the unemployment insurance benefits be mailed to various addresses under his control. EDD approved dozens of the fraudulent claims and authorized Bank of America to mail out debit cards containing unemployment insurance benefits. Jaklitsch then activated the debit cards and used them to withdraw the benefits at ATMs. The scheme sought over $7.5 million in unemployment insurance benefits and caused EDD and the United States to incur actual losses of at least $3.4 million.”

New Jersey SBA Case

  • “For the second case, according to court documents, between July 2020 and August 2020, Jaklitsch executed a scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration (SBA) by fraudulently acquiring COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), which were loans meant to provide low-interest financing and grants to small businesses, renters, and homeowners in regions affected by declared disasters, like the COVID-19 pandemic.”

  • “To obtain an EIDL, a qualifying business applied to the SBA and provided certain information about its operations through an online portal. The EIDL approval process required applicants to supply minimal eligibility documentation and to affirm that the information in the application was true and correct under the penalty of perjury and applicable criminal statutes. The amount of an EIDL was based, in part, on the information provided by the applicant, including the business’s gross revenue and cost of goods sold. Qualifying entities could use EIDL funds only on certain expenses, including fixed debts, payroll, and accounts payable.”

  • “Jaklitsch or one or more co-schemers knowingly submitted fraudulent EIDL loan applications to the SBA in the names of entities that did not authorize the applications. The false information included, among other things, that (a) the schemers had the authority to submit the loan applications on behalf of the applying entities, (b) the entities’ gross revenues; (c) the entities’ costs of goods sold; and (d) bank account information purportedly belonging to the entities. These fraudulent applications sought and received over $1.2 million in EIDL loan funds that were sent to at least 14 separate bank accounts. Jaklitsch used a cellphone application to withdraw over $777,000 in cash out of the $1.2 million.”

Turns out, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft don’t pay. Who knew?!

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