15 arrested for unemployment benefits fraud

FBI Boston Division Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta talks about the 15 suspects charged with defrauding federal unemployment benefits in Rhode Island, April 8, 2021, joined by (from left) RI Attorney General Peter Neronha and Acting U.S. Attorney Richard Myrus. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Fifteen Rhode Island residents have been charged with defrauding unemployment insurance programs tied to federal COVID-19 relief funds.

U.S. Acting Attorney Richard Myrus said Thursday the suspects fraudulently filed unemployment insurance claims in some 11 states, totaling nearly $580,000.

Prosecutors said some of the suspects were discovered because they took out large cash advances at a local casino using out-of-state unemployment benefit cards, but then left without gambling.

The case is part of a broader federal effort to crack down on COVID-19 relief fund fraud.