RI man defrauds COVID relief programs in 8 states

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I (WPRI/AP) — A Rhode Island man has pleaded guilty to his role in a conspiracy to file fraudulent applications for COVID-19 unemployment relief funds in multiple states using stolen Social Security numbers and other personal information.

Prosecutors said Courtney Hilaire, 29, pleaded guilty Monday to multiple counts of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, possession of device making equipment and other offenses.

Hilaire, according to prosecutors, worked alongside others to steal Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and other personal identifying information when filing fraudulent applications for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, California, Florida, Nevada, and Tennessee.

Police arrested Hilaire and the others in July 2020 in Warwick after they were found sleeping inside a stolen car in a hotel parking lot.

Inside the vehicle, police located 33 counterfeit credit cards, fraudulent drivers licenses from multiple states, listings of people’s identities and personal information and approximately $13,000 cash.

Hilaire is scheduled to be sentenced on March 30, 2022.

Rhode Island residents who think their personal information has been stolen and used fraudulently to obtain benefits are asked to contact Rhode Island State Police at financialcrimes@risp.gov or the FBI Providence office at (401) 272-8310.

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