State employee steals $800,000 with identity theft ring
Imagine if your living was made off of other people not working.
That’s what Californian Pamela Emanuel did when she used her job as a tax compliance representative to open unemployment benefits under 250 stolen worker identities. Before she was charged for the crime, her and her accomplices stole $800,000 worth of unemployment benefits.
Emanuel and her associates could face up to 20 years of prison for multiple counts of mail fraud.
How her scheme worked
The majority of state services only require simple information like birthdays and social security numbers for identity verification, and as a tax compliance representative, Emanuel had access to hundreds of identities.
She would then give the stolen information to her accomplices — Gregory Lee, Russell White III, Brittany Maunakea, and Sergio Reyna — who would then open up unemployment benefits under those identities.
Pretending to be someone else got to be so easy for the identity thieves, that Emanuel would even sometimes call into her own office and pretend she was someone else, just to make sure she was getting her undeserved benefits.
This is just another example of how important multi-factor authentication is for identity assurance. If one of the largest state governments in the country was tricked into fraud, then how safe do you think your identity is?