Va. man pleads guilty in latest unemployment fraud scheme

Crime

In this photo illustration, a person files an application for unemployment benefits on April 16, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. – The government reported Thursday that another 5.2 million US workers filed for unemployment benefits, taking the four-week total to 22 million, a staggering figure in a downturn that economists say presents the country with its most severe outlook since the Great Depression of the 1930s. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — A southwest Virginia man has pleaded guilty to taking part in a pandemic unemployment benefits scheme that defrauded the government of over $150,000, according to federal authorities. 

Travis Kilgore of Wise, Virginia, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon to charges that he conspired with others to commit mail fraud and defraud the government, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia said in a news release

According to court documents, Kilgore and others filed claims for pandemic unemployment benefits through the Virginia Employment Commission website. The scheme involved submitting claims for various individuals, including Kilgore, who were not eligible, the news release said.

Court documents filed in the case say the employment commission recouped $18,004 but the aggregate net loss was not less than $164,470.

Court records indicate Kilgore was in custody. An attorney listed as representing him did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. He is set to be sentenced in July. 

The case is the latest of several pandemic unemployment benefits schemes that have resulted in criminal charges in Virginia. 

“Unemployment Insurance fraud is a national problem, and Virginia is not immune,” the employment commission said in a news release earlier this week.

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