“Investigating the mass amount of fraud associated with unemployment benefits and the CARES act is time-consuming and often complex, but we must hold these suspected criminals accountable for stealing from funds meant to help honest families who suddenly found themselves without an income due to the pandemic.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
SACRAMENTO – On March 29, 2022, Terence Aubrey Larker, 35, of Las Vegas, previously of Sacramento, was arrested after a federal grand jury returned an eight-count indictment charging him with mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.
The indictment was unsealed after Larker’s arrest in Las Vegas.
According to court documents, beginning in April 2020, and continuing through at least October 2020, Larker perpetrated a mail fraud and identity theft scheme that targeted the Unemployment Insurance benefit program that California administers through its Employment Development Department (EDD).
Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, EDD is responsible for administering unemployment insurance benefits for qualifying residents who can no longer find employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Larker is accused of obtaining the personally identifiable information (PII) of more than 80 individuals and filing fraudulent unemployment insurance benefit claims under their identities. EDD approved many of these applications and mailed benefits in the form of prepaid debit cards to addresses under Larker’s control, including at least 24 to his home address in Sacramento. Once received in the mail, he allegedly activated the cards and spent the benefits on himself, often appearing in ATM surveillance footage taking out large amounts of cash from these cards. In total, Larker’s alleged conduct resulted in EDD and the United States paying out more than $1.1 million in fraudulent claims.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG), California Employment Development Department, Department of Homeland Security-Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
If convicted, Larker faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for mail fraud and a mandatory additional sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft.