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Fraudulent Unemployment Benefits

Authorities announced Wednesday charges against inmates and accomplices across three Pennsylvania state prisons who they say fraudulently received hundreds of thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro says the charges are linked to two rings, or organized groups of inmates who provided false information on COVID-19 unemployment benefit applications.

Shapiro says the larger ring was operating out of State Correctional Institution Benner in Centre County.

He says the other ring was operated out of SCI Mahanoy in Schuylkill County.

“After announcing our first round of arrests in these COVID unemployment scams, I promised that there were more to come,” said Shapiro. “Today, 20 more individuals have been charged with illegally taking benefits away from hard-working Pennsylvanians who are struggling during this crisis. These arrests are not the end of our investigation, and I’ll continue working with my colleagues at the federal level to track down those heading these schemes, along with those who are willfully participating and breaking the law.”

Investigators say the Benner ring had two ring leaders and eight co-conspirator inmates who were able to obtain a total of $153,470 in COVID-19 unemployment benefits.

“Adele Moore, of State College, and James G. Neff Zonge, an inmate at SCI Benner, began operating the fraud ring out of SCI Benner after Moore successfully applied for COVID-19 unemployment benefits on behalf of Neff Zonge,” the Attorney General’s Office wrote in a release. “Moore and Neff Zonge established a system in which Moore would use an inmate’s personal identifying information, apply for COVID-19 benefits from her address, and then give the inmate a portion of the collected benefits. Moore would often keep the majority of the money for her own personal use.”

Shapiro says the Mahanoy ring had two ringleaders and two additional inmates and obtained $109,900 in fraudulent COVID-19 unemployment benefits.

Shapiro says the larger ring was operating out of State Correctional Institution Benner in Centre County.

He says the other ring was operated out of SCI Mahanoy in Schuylkill County.

“After announcing our first round of arrests in these COVID unemployment scams, I promised that there were more to come,” said Shapiro. “Today, 20 more individuals have been charged with illegally taking benefits away from hard-working Pennsylvanians who are struggling during this crisis. These arrests are not the end of our investigation, and I’ll continue working with my colleagues at the federal level to track down those heading these schemes, along with those who are willfully participating and breaking the law.”

Investigators say the Benner ring had two ring leaders and eight co-conspirator inmates who were able to obtain a total of $153,470 in COVID-19 unemployment benefits.

“Adele Moore, of State College, and James G. Neff Zonge, an inmate at SCI Benner, began operating the fraud ring out of SCI Benner after Moore successfully applied for COVID-19 unemployment benefits on behalf of Neff Zonge,” the Attorney General’s Office wrote in a release. “Moore and Neff Zonge established a system in which Moore would use an inmate’s personal identifying information, apply for COVID-19 benefits from her address, and then give the inmate a portion of the collected benefits. Moore would often keep the majority of the money for her own personal use.”

Shapiro says the Mahanoy ring had two ringleaders and two additional inmates and obtained $109,900 in fraudulent COVID-19 unemployment benefits.

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