8 people in two states charged with stealing $1.1 million in unemployment benefits fraud scheme


FILE PHOTO: U.S. Dollar banknotes are seen in this photo illustration taken February 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez/Illustration/File Photo

LOS ANGELES (News Nation/KTLA) — Eight people were arrested, including a mother and her four children, for creating fake businesses to claim more than $1.1 million in California unemployment benefits, federal prosecutors said.

The indictment was unsealed Tuesday. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles alleged those arrested conspired to cheat the California unemployment insurance program over three years through the creation of fraudulent cleaning services and boutique stores.

Each of the eight defendants face charges that include conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

The defendants are:

  • Donna Givens, 58, Los Angeles
  • Catrina Gipson, 44, Moreno Valley, California
  • Evelyn Taylor, 36, Los Angeles
  • Laron Taylor, 34, Buena Park, California
  • Latrice Taylor, 37, Buena Park, California
  • Raschell Taylor, 30, San Bernardino, California
  • Bianka Logie, 45, Moreno Valley, California
  • Vernisha Jolivet, 27, Indianapolis

Seven defendants were arraigned Tuesday afternoon. Jolivet was expected to appear in court in Indiana on Wednesday.

Donna Givens is the mother of Evelyn, Laron, Latrice and Raschell Taylor, as well as the aunt of Catrina Gipson.

From February 2013 to July 2016, the indictment alleged the eight registered fake businesses with the California Employment Development Department, the state’s administrator for federal unemployment insurance benefits.

Logie, Jolivet and Evelyn Taylor filed claims for unemployment insurance, claiming unemployment from the businesses created by their co-conspirators, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Givens, Laron Taylor and Raschell Taylor opened and maintained post office boxes to receive mail for the fake businesses, prosecutors said.

After being issued California EDD-funded debit cards, prosecutors said the defendants withdrew funds from cards in the name of others. They also used the names of prison inmates as phony employees to collect the unemployment insurance claims benefits.

If convicted on all charges, each person faces a maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison, officials said.

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