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New York State Department of Labor

Commissioner Reardon Announces Guilty Plea of Bronx Man to Charges of Unemployment Insurance Fraud and Identity Theft

Michael Perez Stole Identities Through False Job Advertisements; Was on Probation for Threatening to Blow Up an Aircraft at JFK in 2013

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Albany, NY (April 18, 2017) -

State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon announced today that Michael Perez, a Bronx resident, has pleaded guilty to multiple charges of Aggravated Identity Theft, Wire Fraud and Access Device Fraud. Mr. Perez stole the identities of more than 30 individuals and used them to file for Unemployment Insurance benefits. The potential value of Mr. Perez's fraud totaled nearly $150,000, but due to early detection by the New York State Department of Labor's Office of Special Investigations, $140,000 was saved.

"The New York State Department of Labor is committed to stopping Unemployment Insurance fraud," said Commissioner Reardon. "Early detection and aggressive enforcement are key. The anti-fraud measures our Office of Special Investigations utilizes routinely stop fraud before criminals can rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in ill-gotten benefits. I applaud the Department's investigative staff for their work and I thank the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General and Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rhode for their ongoing assistance in these cases."

Mr. Perez posted fake job listings for a security guard position on Craigslist. When individuals responded to the fake job order, Mr. Perez used their personal information to file for Unemployment Insurance benefits in their names. In addition, he used their identities to open bank, credit card and cell phone accounts.

The New York State Department of Labor operates one of the largest Unemployment Insurance systems in the country. The department's Office of Special Investigations staff monitors several data sources and utilizes various analytical techniques to determine when fraud occurs. Once detected, fraud cases are referred to local law enforcement.

The Department of Labor worked jointly with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General on this case.

Mr. Perez was charged in the Eastern District of New York because he was serving probation for threatening to blow up an aircraft at John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2013. He has been remanded to a federal detention center and faces 2 to 10 years in federal prison.

"Michael Perez used job advertisements to lure unsuspecting job seekers into providing their identity information. He then used the stolen identifies to apply for fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits. Schemes such as this divert precious tax dollars intended to help the unemployed. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate identify theft that impacts the integrity of the program," said Michael C. Mikulka, Special Agent in Charge, New York Region, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General.

New York State is a national leader in the prevention and investigation of Unemployment Insurance fraud. In 2012, New York State was selected to create a single Unemployment Insurance National Integrity Center of Excellence by the United States Department of Labor. The Center is identifying, developing and piloting new strategies and tools to combat improper payment and fraud on a national level.

Anyone with information about possible Unemployment Insurance fraud should call the Department of Labor's anonymous toll-free fraud hotline at (888) 598-2077 or visit www.labor.ny.gov/fraud.

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