Florence couple pleads guilty in nationwide pandemic unemployment fraud scheme

A Florence couple has plead guilty for their role in a nationwide pandemic unemployment fraud conspiracy.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO)— A Florence couple has plead guilty for their role in a nationwide pandemic unemployment fraud conspiracy.

Mohammad Ribhi Farraj, 43, and Nariman Mahmoud Masoud, 35, along with other family members, engaged in a wire fraud conspiracy by filing and receiving false claims for regular unemployment insurance and expanded pandemic unemployment insurance benefits from South Carolina, New York, and Florida. The husband and wife also recruited others into the scheme.

Authorities say fraud schemes have become more widespread after the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provided expanded Unemployment Insurance (UI).

Officials say each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The total amount of the UI fraud was at least $444,753.

 

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