SC DEW: Two SC women arrested for unemployment insurance fraud

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– According to the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, a St. Matthews woman and a Charleston woman have been arrested and accused of committing financial identity fraud in order to receive unemployment insurance benefits.

Authorities say 23-year-old Sarah Elizabeth Gates was arrested on January 6 by the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office and faces six counts of financial identity fraud. Officials allege that Gates was at first offering assistance to her friend, who is the victim, in applying for unemployment insurance benefits. Authorities accuse Gates of switching out the victim’s bank account information with that of Gate’s own, so she would receive the benefits. Authorities allege that this occurred between May-June 2020.

Officials also say 39-year-old Melissa Rufus was arrested by The North Charleston Police Department on January 26. Authorities say Rufus faces two counts of financial identity fraud after she admitted to buying the victim’s personal information online and using it to file for unemployment insurance benefits.

“The allegations in this matter are two prime examples of identity theft fraud, which is one of the largest categories of fraud that our department deals with in our integrity investigations. Investigations of this type of theft take an extensive amount of time and collaboration between our Integrity Unit and our law enforcement partners. In this specific case, we want to thank the Calhoun County Sherriff’s Office and the North Charleston Police Department for their dedication to bringing these investigations to a close,” stated Executive Director Dan Ellzey. “The pandemic and the federal programs have presented unemployment agencies around the country with fraud challenges. Our agency has implemented multiple prevention and detection measures over the past year and will continue to do so in order to protect our claimants and ensure that benefits reach the individuals and families that need financial support during this crisis,” said a representative from SC DEW.

If you know of someone committing financial identity fraud, SC DEW says you can fill out a fraud form online.

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