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'Tip of the iceberg': Sheriff hoping for more arrests in million-dollar unemployment fraud scheme

1 week 13 minutes 40 seconds ago Wednesday, July 21 2021 Jul 21, 2021 July 21, 2021 6:50 PM July 21, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

PLAQUEMINE - Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi revealed how he and his deputies uncovered a group of scammers who defrauded taxpayers out of more than $1 million in pandemic-boosted unemployment benefits.

The Attorney General's office says the network of fraudsters targeted unemployment offices in California and Louisiana to the tune of $1.24 million.

"It was not easy. It was not an easy mission. Having these other states cooperate with us was not an easy thing to do," Stassi said.

The sheriff said it all began when they were tipped off by an informant.

"These people were actively recruiting people, 'bring me the information, bring me your social security number in, come on on in bring me your drivers license.' And they were actually putting together each of the deals from their computer, forwarding it to California, and through this process the money was gathered."

Tuesday, the AG's office announced the arrest of five locals involved in the scheme. Earlier this month, we reported on Darrolyn Bell's arrest. She's accused of taking more than $250,000 for herself.

"It was turning into a pretty lucrative operation. Some of them were sending off 10, 12, 18 thousand, skimming off two or three thousand off the top. The person who did nothing would receive $15-16,000."

Authorities are currently looking for two additional suspects, and Stassi believes there could be a lot more.

"I'm hoping this is just the tip of the iceberg, because I'm looking for more arrests. I'm hoping thousands."

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