LA Postal Workers Caught Defrauding EDD of $200k
Federal authorities Wednesday morning arrested two employees of the U.S. Postal Service who are charged with using California Employment Development Department (EDD) debit cards from 10 stolen identities to steal nearly $200,000. Basically, these two dumb dumbs are accused of buying postal money orders and using ATMs with fraudulently obtained EDD debit cards, while they were on duty at the Post Office.
Christian Jeremyah James, 31, of South Los Angeles, who works in the Culver City Main Post Office, and Armand Caleb Legardy, 32, of Inglewood, who works in the La Tijera Post Office on Crenshaw Boulevard in South Los Angeles, are charged with conspiracy, aggravated identity theft, access device fraud, and fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency benefits.
As of late December, the 10 fraudulently obtained EDD debit cards had been used to make $168,758 in purchases and $31,133 in ATM cash withdrawals. According to the complaint James and Legardy also deposited multiple fraudulently purchased Postal money orders directly into their own bank accounts, including one instance in which James purchased a $1,000 money order that was then deposited into Legardy’s bank account.
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According to the complaint, more than $25,000 in fraudulently purchased Postal money orders were deposited into James’ own bank account.
The complaint does not accuse James or Legardy of submitting the fraudulent applications to the EDD themselves, which is interesting, this implies that their is another party to their crimes, parties who are submitting the actual applications to the EDD and obtaining the stolen identities in the first place.
This January California officials admitted they have confirmed that $11.4 billion in unemployment benefits paid during the COVID-19 pandemic involve fraud — about 10% of benefits paid — and another 17% are under investigation. So this latest arrest is just a drop in the bucket, Legardy and James are only accused of stealing around $200k, so in order to steal billions, there must be thousands of stolen identities or phony ppp loans involved in other cases.
For more information on this case visit Central District of California Department of Justice website for the full press release here.