New York State Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro today announced the sentencing of a Schenectady individual who stole the identities of at least four individuals to obtain more than $50,000 in unemployment insurance payments, which he then spent on a new apartment, expensive clothes and appliances, and a BMW.
Eric Amoako-Attah, 33 of Schenectady, was sentenced in Schenectady County Court before Hon. Matthew J. Sypniewski to three-and-a-half to seven years in prison after previously pleading guilty to Grand Larceny in the 3rd Degree. Amoako-Attah was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $52,552.50, including the forfeiture of $18,660.
An investigation by the Office of the Welfare Fraud Inspector General (OWIG) found that between July and October 2020, Amoako-Attah fraudulently filed online claims for unemployment benefits – including federal benefits related to New York State Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – by using the names and personal identifying information (including social security numbers) of four separate individuals. This resulted in the following net benefits paid in their names to Amoako-Attah:
The funds totaling $52,552.50 were deposited to EBT cards which Amoako-Attah then used for personal expenses.
OWIG investigators reviewed video footage that showed Amoako-Attah at the locations identified in the EBT cards’ transaction history records, including Stewart’s, Walmart, Price Chopper, Michael Kors, and Laced Up Albany.
Amoako-Attah was on parole since March 11, 2020. His parole officer informed OWIG that he was suspicious as Amoako-Attah had recently possessed sufficient cash to make a deposit on a new apartment. During a routine home visit to the residence, the parole officer saw several items that were purchased using the stolen funds, including Air Jordan sneakers, several new winter jackets, a large television, new bedding, new kitchen appliances, and a purse. Additionally, Amoako-Attah purchased a green 2003 BMW Model 325 after the EBT cards were issued.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way the world operates, criminals like this individual have discovered elaborate schemes to exploit the social safety nets that so many innocent individuals rely on to survive,” said Inspector General Tagliafierro. “As this case demonstrates, our office is committed to ensuring the integrity of these important social programs and holding those who steal from the public accountable for their actions.”
Inspector General Tagliafierro thanked the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office for prosecuting the matter. She also thanked the New York State Police for conducting the arrest, and the New York State Department of Labor, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and the Schenectady County Department of Social Services for their assistance in the investigation.