DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — One suspect from Delray Beach applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in eight different states.
Another, on his application, claimed he made $546,000 as a cashier in California before he lost his job when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year.
A third suspect, who lived in West Palm Beach, applied for unemployment benefits in Arizona where he claimed he lost his job at a Walmart in Missouri.
A fourth claimed he lost his job as a nursery school teacher where he made $63,000 a year.
Tyrell Bouie, Nathaniel Braxton, Enos Ducoste, Deontre Richardson, and Devontre Richardson, are among nine people charged in a CARES Act fraud investigation. (PBSO)
New information is emerging in the arrests of nine people as part of a CARES Act fraud investigation involving the Office of Statewide Prosecution and Delray Beach Police.
Police said the suspects fraudulently received more than $555,000 in PUA funds from multiple states.
Court records show Pennsylvania, Arizona, Massachusetts and California as popular targets.
Tyrell Bouie, 19, faces seven counts of fraud to obtain reemployment assistance, fraud to obtain property under $20,000, and use of a 2-way communication device to commit a felony.
Investigators said Bouie, of Delray Beach, applied for PUA money in eight states. Court records show in Kansas he claimed on his application that he lost his job at a Footlocker store due to COVID-19. The state denied his claim. He received the same response in Arizona and Idaho. California, where he listed an apartment building as his home address, didn’t send him any money either because he didn’t have the right documentation to verify his identity.
However, the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance, sent him eight payments of more than $5,700. On this application, he claimed he lost his job in Massachusetts due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 15, Investigators later discovered a wage and earnings report showed he worked for Gubagoo Inc., a car dealership in Boca Raton.
Bouie also received money from Pennsylvania where he claimed he lost his job on March 11, 2020. The state sent him a debit card to his home and uploaded $195 to it.
He also applied to the Ohio Office of Unemployment Insurance Operations for relief funding. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services later sent Bouie four payments for a total of $4,734.
Investigators said Bouie also applied for benefits in Hawaii, but released no information in that investigation.
Investigators said Bouie used his Instagram account to teach others on how to commit unemployment assistance fraud.
Nathaniel Braxton, 21, is also accused of sharing examples of the scheme to friends on Instagram.
Braxton, arrested on Thursday, is facing five counts of fraud to obtain reemployment assistance, fraud to obtain property under $20,000, and use of a 2-way communication device to commit a felony.
According to court records, Braxton claimed he bought a BMW and a Mercedes Benz with fraudulent PUA funds. He applied for funding in five states: Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.
California, Nevada, and Massachusetts all denied his claims. Arizona, according to records, flagged his application because of the Florida mailing address, and that his phone number showed up on five different addresses in the system.
Pennsylvania, however, loaded $10,920 onto a US Bank ReliaCard debit card. Authorities said he transferred two chunks of it to his girlfriend at the time. On his application, he claimed he worked for Pennsylvania Physical Medicine in Greensburg until March 14, 2020.
Enos Ducoste, 21, claimed he earned $12,000 while working for the Orozcos Mechanic Shop in Kansas City during 2020, court records show.
The year before, he said he made $69,000 in Massachusetts until the COVID-19 pandemic forced him out of a job on March 1, 2020.
Court records show he also applied for PAU in Ohio, claiming on his application he worked as a plumber, pipefitter, pipe layer and steamfitter.
Investigators said the Ohio Office of Unemployment Insurance Operations sent Ducoste a letter on June 3, 2020, to say he’s eligible for benefits and could receive $189/week for up to 39 weeks. He received $8,235 in a direct deposit, though investigators found no records he ever lived in Ohio. Investigators believe he received a deposit of an additional $3,156 into another bank, but so far, those records have not been recovered.
On July 14, 2020, the Office of Unemployment Insurance Operations asked Ducoste for more information, which included a social security card, a driver’s license, photo, proof of previous employment, and a voided check from his most recent employer. In December, the UIO sent him another letter saying he was overpaid $11,391 and to contact them immediately.
Deontre Richardson, 23, applied for unemployment benefits in four states, investigators say.
On his application in California, investigators said Richardson claimed he worked as a cashier and made $546,789 during 2019, only to lose his job on July 25, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Records show Richardson ultimately received six separate payments onto the debit card from California’s Employment Development Department totaling $11,075.
For the application in Massachusetts, investigators said Richardson told the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance he lived in Boston and earned $12,000 in 2019.
The Arizona Department of Economic Security denied his application, where he claimed he lost his job at Arizona Construction Equipment Inc., on March 11, 2020. Investigators later learned the construction company is family-owned and only the owner and his father work there.
On June 29, 2020, investigators said Richardson applied for PUA with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. Richardson claimed he lost his job at Walmart in Sayre, Pa., on March 15, 2020. The state sent a US Bank ReliaCard to an address on N. Australian Avenue in West Palm Beach. Walmart would later tell investigators no one by the name of Deontre Richardson worked there, according to court records.
Devontre Richardson, 22, received a total of more than $44,000 from three of the four states he sent applications to, according to court records.
In Massachusetts, he claimed he worked in 2019 and made $11,175, but couldn’t work after March 8, 2020, due to COVID-19. Investigators would later find incidents that showed him under arrest in Florida during the time period in which he claimed he worked in Massachusetts.
On his application in California, investigators said Richardson claimed he worked as a nursery school teacher where he made $63,000 a year in 2019, before losing his job on Feb. 17, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The California Employment Development Department eventually approved to give Richardson $22,800 on a prepaid debit card. Court records show he withdrew $1,000 a day from various Bank of America ATMs in Palm Beach County. The state deactivated the card on Sept. 25, 2020, due to suspected fraudulent activity with a balance of $12,302.85.
And as a result of his application in Pennsylvania, he received two checks from the Commonwealth of PA for $2,925 and $6,600. Both were deposited into the Wells Fargo bank on June 26, 2020, investigators said.
Authorities said Richardson asked to receive his benefit payments through a US Bank ReliaCard. He received two payments of $1,200 and $390 on July 1, 2020. Devontre withdrew $800 from a PNC Bank in West Palm Beach and another $700 from a PNC Bank in Riviera Beach. Investigators said the money was spent over the next 10 days in Palm Beach County, investigators said.Investigation nets 9 arrests for unemployment assistance fraud. (Delray Beach Police)
Police also arrested Bakari Washington, Jordan Lewis, Roquan Baker, and Roderek Baker.