- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Federal prosecutors announced charges Wednesday against an illegal immigrant from Britain who they say stole dozens of identities and then used some of them to apply for and receive unemployment benefits from coronavirus relief funds.

Investigators were tipped to the man, identified as Alan Ray, by Wynn Las Vegas, which reported opening a package Mr. Ray had tried to send, and finding two dozen unemployment benefit debit cards, all in different names.

When the FBI tracked down the identities, it found at least 60 unemployment claims filed in Nevada and California under the names, totaling more than $930,000 in approved benefits. More than $215,000 in other benefits were not yet approved.

FBI Special Agent Christina D. Burt, in an affidavit filed in the case, said Mr. Ray has been deported in 2011 for overstaying a visa, and had a final order of removal lodged against him.

It’s not clear when he snuck back into the U.S., though at the time he was caught he was using several stolen identities, and had checked in to the Wynn with one of those.

One identity had Mr. Ray as 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighing 240 pounds. He is in fact eight inches shorter and 75 pounds lighter, the FBI said.

California’s unemployment program has proved to be a major source of fraud during the coronavirus pandemic.

Fontrell Antonio Baines, a rapper who goes by the name Nuke Bizzle, faces charges of using stolen identities to collect unemployment benefits.

Authorities arrested Mr. Baines after he posted a rap video bragging about the scam, including riffling through a bunch of envelopes he said in the video were benefit applications.

The video contained a disclaimer saying the documents weren’t real, but investigators said the envelopes did in fact show stolen identities that were used to apply for benefits in California.

Nevada U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich, in announcing the charges, also said his office has received funding to hire a prosecutor dedicated to pursuing cases involving federal coronavirus relief.

“If fraudsters don’t understand it by now, they should quickly realize that our office is prioritizing the investigation and prosecution of those trying to exploit the unemployment system and harm Nevadans in need,” he said.

Ten people were charged by his office in October with unemployment fraud.

Mr. Ray faces charges of possession of unauthorized access devices and aggravated identity theft.

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