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Columbus Residents Face Federal Charges For Pandemic Unemployment Fraud

This April 22, 2014, file photo shows an employment application form on a table during a job fair at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, N.Y.
Mike Groll
/
Associated Press
This April 22, 2014, file photo shows an employment application form on a table during a job fair at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, N.Y.

Three Columbus residents are facing federal charges for allegedly filing fraudulent pandemic unemployment applications. 

Pandemic unemployment assistance is a federally-supported program that provides jobless assistance to people who don't qualify for traditional unemployment, like freelancers, self-employed workers and independent contractors.

Prosecutors say Ricco Maye collected more than $17,000 in PUA benefits after filing false claims in Ohio and Michigan.

According to the indictment unsealed Friday, Maye then expanded the scheme to include Airrika Anthony and Nicole Groves. The two collected more than $10,000 each. The group began recruiting others—using their personal information to collect additional assistance, while keeping a cut for themselves.

Prosecutors say the PUA scheme is part of a larger case that includes a series of drug charges involving a total of four people. The drug charges alone could result in 10 years behind bars, while the fraud charges could amount to 20.

Many states have reported fraud in their unemployment programs, leading of millions of people having benefits claimed in their name. Ohio alone has flagged tens of thousands of claims for potential fraud in the last few months.

The charges are filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in Columbus.