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Stevenson, AL woman charged in COVID scheme gets 14 months and must repay $120,025

A Stevenson, Alabama woman was sentenced to 14-months in prison on Wednesday after conviction from her involvement in a scheme to defraud COVID-19 unemployment programs in multiple states.

29-year-old Randa Faye Allison appeared before Judge Curtis L. Collier in Chattanooga on Wednesday for sentencing.

As part of the filed plea agreement with the court, the Department of Justice says Allison pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud.

She was sentenced to 14-months in prison and has also been ordered to pay $120,025 in restitution to the Pennsylvania and Alabama Departments of Labor, and to forfeit the United States $100,225 as part of a money judgment.

Following her incarceration, the DOJ says Allison will be on five years of supervised release.

Court documents say Allison conspired with others to devise a scheme in which she defrauded the United States government and the governments of Tennessee, Alabama, Pennsylvania, and California to obtain money from the states’ COVID relief programs in the form of unemployment insurance proceeds funded by the US government by acquiring personal information from others and using it to it fraudulently make mass online applications for money earmarked by the states to provide unemployment insurance relief for those affected by the national pandemic, falsely claiming in the applications that the individuals whose personal information was reflected on the applications worked in those states. The states would then mail debit cards to addresses in the Eastern District of Tennessee, and Allison would receive a percentage of the payout of the fraudulent claim.

The defendant was personally responsible for the fraudulent distribution of over $120,000 of unemployment protection insurance funds, it was stated. The scheme itself involved the fraudulent distribution of over $550,000 in unemployment protection insurance funds.

“As if the pandemic were not traumatic enough for our communities, fraudsters like the defendant callously took advantage of the crisis to obtain a financial windfall,” said United States Attorney Francis M. Hamilton, III.

“We will continue to work with our partners at every level of law enforcement to pursue and prosecute criminals who used the crisis for fraudulent personal gain.”

“Randa Faye Allison and her co-conspirators filed fraudulent Unemployment Insurance claims with multiple state workforce agencies, enriching themselves by defrauding a program intended to assist struggling American workers during an unprecedented global pandemic,” said Mathew Broadhurst, Special Agent-in-Charge, Southeast Region, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the integrity of the UI system from those who exploit these benefit programs.”

“The FBI takes very seriously our responsibility to investigate and pursue those who commit fraud for personal gain. Along with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we will continue to aggressively investigate those who lined their pockets with money intended to help struggling businesses and workers as a result of the COVID pandemic,” said Special Agent in Charge Joseph E. Carrico, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Assistant United States Attorney Steven Neff represents the United States.

The investigation was conducted by the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General and the FBI as part of the Smoky Mountains Financial Crimes Task Force.