LWC uncovers alleged disaster fraud scheme, alerts federal officials to suspicious activity

BATON ROUGE, La (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) - Staffers of the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) led the charge in identifying a woman’s attempts to defraud the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of more than $150,000 in connection to the August 2016 flooding. 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 37-year-old Renata Foreman faces six counts of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for allegedly using multiple stolen identities to submit some 55 claims for disaster unemployment assistance (DUA).

The funds were designed to support residents who lost employment as a result of the flood and were processed by the LWC Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefit Analysis Team in coordination with its Technical Support and Quality Control teams.

A UI employee first noticed suspicious activity in Sept. 2016, when she identified 10 claims that appeared to have been filed by the same individual. Upon further examination, a UI investigator found additional similarities among the claims, including that several of the Social Security numbers belonged to deceased individuals.The LWC alerted the Office of the Inspector General of its internal investigation into the suspicious activity, leading to Foreman’s formal indictment.

“This agency has zero tolerance for anyone seeking to capitalize on the misfortune of others, said LWC Executive Director Ava Dejoie. “Our employees know all too well the distress and devastation that ensued following the 2016 floods, as many of them suffered personal losses of their own. In the wake of this latest revelation, we applaud the swift actions taken by our staff members to bring this individual to justice.”

To report suspected cases of unemployment fraud, call 1-800-201-3362, or visit www.laworks.net. To learn more about how to handle improper UI payments, visit https://itsyourjobtoknow.com/.

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