‘Mr. Vacation’ charged with stealing identities, faking unemployment filings

Providence

Web pages used to show information for collecting unemployment insurance in Virginia, right, and reporting fraud and identity theft in Pennsylvania, are displayed on the respective state web pages, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in Zelienople, Pa. Massive fraud in the nation’s unemployment system is raising alarms even as President Joe Biden and Congress prepare to pour hundreds of billions more into expanded benefits for those left jobless by the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — He called himself “Mr. Vacation,” and is now enjoying the amenities of Rhode Island’s Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston.

Courtney Hilaire, 28, of Providence, was indicted by a federal grand jury Friday for stealing people’s identities in order to fraudulently apply for federal unemployment benefits tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, allocated under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act.

He’s one of 24 people now charged in Rhode Island with swindling unemployment agencies, taking money for themselves that was supposed to go to American families and businesses in need.

Hilaire allegedly obtained identifying information online, from Social Security numbers to dates of birth, to file six applications in July 2020 for unemployment benefits from the state of Pennsylvania, according to the office of Acting U.S. Attorney Richard Myrus.

At least seven times, starting back in August, Hilaire withdrew money illegally from bank accounts accessed at Rhode Island ATMs.

The defendant referred to himself as “Mr. Vacation,” the office said.

Hilaire is also accused of enlisting someone to help defraud the Small Business Administration by applying for CARES Act Economic Injury Disaster Loans he was not entitled to. It’s alleged Hilaire filed at least 28 applications for disaster loans.

He’s charged with14 counts of wire fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He remains in federal and state custody at the ACI, according to prosecutors.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said they have been investigating and charging fraudsters who took the American public for a total of $31 million so far, fleeced through the CARES Act.

This case against Hilaire is in addition to an alleged conspiracy case he was indicted for this month, where he and two others are accused of stealing credit card and identity information and producing fraudulent credit cards.

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