Three Charged With Allegedly Ripping Off $2 Million In EDD Unemployment Benefits

A state prison inmate, his wife and a San Leandro man have been charged by federal prosecutors in a stolen identity scam that allegedly ripped off the California Employment Development Department for more than $2 million in COVID benefits.

Three Charged With Allegedly Ripping Off $2 Million In EDD Unemployment Benefits

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A state prison inmate, his wife and a San Leandro man have been charged by federal prosecutors in a stolen identity scam that allegedly ripped off the California Employment Development Department for more than $2 million in COVID benefits.

Acting United States Attorney Stephanie Hinds said Ratha Yin, Amanda Yin, and Steven Mavromatis have all been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. If convicted, each faces a maximum sentence of 20 years of prison and fines up to $250,000.

According to the criminal indictment, Ratha Yin was an inmate at Centinela State Prison on October 16, 2020, when he and his cellmate were found to be in possession of two cell phones and two SD cards.

When investigators examined the contraband electronics, they uncovered a trove of information about communications between Ratha Yin and his wife and Mavromatis.

The devices also contained communications with the California Employment Development Department and the Bank of America.

A subsequent investigation uncovered evidence that Ratha Yin used at least one of the cell phones to communicate from prison with Mavromati, who filed fraudulent claims for unemployment insurance made available through EDD under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Amanda Yin allegedly knew about the fraud, assisted with the collection of the proceeds and disposed of some of the illegal funds.

The complaint alleged that the defendants accessed the dark web to obtain personally identifying information for hundreds of individuals and then created email accounts for many of the victims to be used in connection with the scheme.

Ratha Yin and Mavromatis then used the personal information and emails to file fraudulent unemployment claims and obtain pre-loaded Bank of America debit cards.

Investigators have uncovered 91 fraudulent claims filed by Ratha Yin and Mavromatis. They obtained0 at least $1.9 million of cash withdrawal. An additional $132,000 was also uncovered.

Amanda Yin allegedly used $71,000 tp purchased an Audi sport utility vehicle and put a down payment on a home in Indio, Calif.

Amanda Yin and Mavromatis were arrested on September 21.

Source : CBS San Francisco More   

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UPDATE: Thousands Forced To Flee Fawn Fire; New Evacuation Ordered South Of Shasta Lake

A growing army of firefighters battled the advancing flames of the Fawn Fire northwest of Redding Friday morning, less than 24 hours after homes burned and cherished memories were turned to ash

UPDATE: Thousands Forced To Flee Fawn Fire; New Evacuation Ordered South Of Shasta Lake

REDDING (CBS SF) — A growing army of firefighters battled the advancing flames of the Fawn Fire northwest of Redding Friday morning, less than 24 hours after homes burned and cherished memories were turned to ash in what authorities believe is an intentionally set blaze.

Cal Fire provided an update on the fire Friday morning, saying it had grown to 5,850 acres and was 10% percent contained.

New mandatory evacuation orders were issued by the Shasta County Sheriff at 11:30 a.m. Friday that covered all roads east of Interstate 5 and north of Old Oregon Trail covering the area north to Shasta Lake.

The Shasta County Sheriff earlier issued a warning to those who refused to obey evacuation orders to stay in their homes late Friday morning, saying if they are seen in areas that have been evacuated they could be removed by authorities.

Cal Fire officials said Thursday afternoon that they will be seeking “arson to wildland” charges against Alexandra Souverneva, a 30-year-old Palo Alto resident.

Fawn Fire arson suspect Alexandra Souverneva of Palo Alto (Shasta County Sheriff’s Office)

Employees of the JF Shay and Mountain Quarries — located near where the fire started on Wednesday — told investigators they saw a white female “trespassing on the property and acting irrationally.”

On Wednesday evening, firefighters engaged in battling the blaze saw a woman — later identified as Souverneva — walk out of the brush and ask for medical help.

During an interview with Cal Fire and law enforcement, officers came to believe Souverneva was responsible for setting the fire. She was arrested and booked into the Shasta County Jail.

The fire was burning in steep, rugged terrain as windy conditions caused the fire to spot in many areas. As the blaze jumped the control lines, it forced at least 4,000 residents to flee their homes. More than 2,000 structures were threatened.

At least 25 structures had burned by late Thursday including several homes.

Raw video of destruction left by Fawn Fire

Deb Webb was among those who lost their home. On Thursday evening, she stood in what was once her front yard, emotionally devastated by what she was seeing.

“I was told they (local officials) thought it was gone, but I didn’t know,” she said with tears streaking down her face. “I see my life gone. Mementos of everything gone. My mother whose gone, I don’t have her ashes anymore, they were in the house. My brother’s gone, his ashes were in the house.”

“I love this place so much,” she said. “We’ve been here since 2006. I mean. My husband has cancer. I
mean, I’ve been dealing with so much. And then this.”

Deb Webb’s return to her burned down home

 

The flames continued to rage overnight, taking an even greater toll. .

The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office issued a mandatory evacuation order Thursday morning for the community of Mountain Gate and evacuation orders were expanded several times Thursday afternoon. Mandatory evacuations now include:

  • The community of Mountain Gate
  • All roads off of Old Oregon Trail in both directions between Bear Mountain north to Interstate 5
  • All roads north of Old Oregon Trail at Akrich north to Pine Grove and east of Interstate 5
  • All of Holiday Road south of Old Oregon Trail
  • All roads east of Dry Creek along Elk Trail east, north to Shasta Lake, and back down Dry Creek

In addition, an evacuation warning was issued for areas north of SR-299 and east of I-5. Redding police said Code Red notifications were being issued in that area. Residents who choose to evacuate were advised to head towards SR299.

A shelter was set up at the First Church of the Nazarene at 2255 Bechelli Lane in Redding. A temporary evacuation center at the Shasta College parking lot in Redding was closed because the area was also evacuated.

Source : CBS San Francisco More   

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