Updated at 4:30 p.m. June 5, 2015
An Antelope Valley woman who allegedly used the promise of roles in bogus remakes of the movies “Cocoon” and “On Golden Pond” as bait in an identity-theft scheme targeting senior citizens pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges.
Dena Peterman, 32, of Littlerock allegedly stole Social Security numbers and other personal identifying information that was used to commit unemployment insurance fraud.
She was named in an eight-count indictment that charges her with conspiracy, aggravated identity theft and six counts of mail fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Court documents allege Peterman and others offered victims an opportunity to be cast in remakes of the 1985 film “Cocoon” and 1981’s “On Golden Pond” in order to obtain their personal information.
Once they had received the data, Peterman and co-conspirators created bogus companies supposedly related to the movie industry, submitted false wage information for the victims and others whom they falsely claimed worked for the companies and filed bogus unemployment insurance claims in their names, federal prosecutors allege.
The state Employment Development Department subsequently provided unemployment insurance benefits in the names of those individuals through debit cards that were mailed to addresses that Peterman or her co-conspirators controlled, according to the indictment. As a result of the alleged scheme, investigators believe the EDD lost about $500,000.
Peterman was arrested May 18, and a magistrate judge ordered she be held without bail. A July 15 status conference is scheduled before U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee.
If convicted of all charges, Peterman could face more than 25 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
— City News Service