A United States Postal Service mail carrier, along with a man from the Santa Clarita Valley, were arrested Thursday for allegedly scheming to steal $800,000 in unemployment insurance funds by using false claims of COVID-related job losses and stealing UI debit cards from the U.S. mail.
Stephen Glover, 32, of Palmdale, who worked at the Valencia post office, and Travis McKenzie, 26, of Valencia, who lived on Glover’s mail delivery route, are expected to make their initial court appearances Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles federal court, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
A criminal complaint charges Glover and McKenzie with one count of mail fraud.
According to an affidavit filed in the case, from August 2020 to February 2021, Glover and McKenzie fraudulently obtained debit cards issued by the California Employment Development Department, which administers the state’s unemployment insurance program.
The debit cards were issued based on applications for pandemic-related unemployment benefits submitted using approximately 50 stolen identities and containing false statements claiming COVID-related job losses, the affidavit states.
The EDD debit cards were issued in the names of victims, some of whom had never resided in, worked in, or even visited California. Glover and McKenzie allegedly split the cash withdrawn using the EDD debit cards, some of which had balances exceeding $30,000, court papers show.
The scheme allegedly involved more than 50 fraudulent claims to EDD, which resulted in EDD issuing cards that had $798,733 in funds in those names, of which at least $318,771 has been withdrawn from the debit cards, federal prosecutors said.
Glover also allegedly stole mail containing more than $20,000 in personal and business checks belonging to others.
If convicted of the mail fraud offense alleged in the complaint, Glover and McKenzie would each face up to 20 years in federal prison, prosecutors noted.