A former contractor at San Quentin Prison used the personal information of multiple inmates to pull in $145,000 worth of fraudulent EDD benefits over a two-year period, and one of the identities she used was that of Scott Peterson.
OK, it may have been funny last year when we learned a Northern California woman used Dianne Feinstein’s name to pull $21,000 in fraudulent California Employment Development Department (EDD) unemployment benefits, just because you’d figure the name “Dianne Feinstein” would have set off some sort of alarm bells that this was not on the up-and-up. But statewide unemployment fraud has cost the state some $20 billion and counting, and likely played a role in millions of legitimately deserving and needy Californians having their unemployment benefits botched and unpaid.
In this context, consider NBC Bay Area’s report that a Bay Area woman has been arrested and charged with unemployment fraud using the identities of inmates at San Quentin prison, including those of Scott Peterson and “the Yosemite Killer” Cary Stayner. The woman, Brandy Iglesias, is charged with raking in $145,000 worth of unemployment identity theft over a two-year period.
“Don’t let the infamous names distract you from who this crime really hurt — the most vulnerable in our society,” state attorney general Rob Bonta said in a statement picked up by KRON4. “EDD theft hurts families in need, parents left without jobs during a pandemic, and Californians struggling to get by.”
But in terms of the famous names that do distract us, here’s the breakdown: Iglesias allegedly used Peterson's name and identity to claim $18,562 from the state EDD in June 2020. She also used Stayner’s name to collect $20,194 around that same period. (Stayner killed four women in 1999 around Yosemite National Park, hence the name “Yosemite Killer.”)
As a reminder, Scott Peterson is currently angling to get a new trial, or at least a lighter resentencing.
Many of these fraud cases are “inside jobs,” so to speak, like the Feinstein fraudster who had previously worked for EDD. In this case, the woman worked for a third-party firm with whom San Quentin prison hired for contract work, and somehow had access to prisoners’ personal data. We actually learned in November 2020 that fraudsters were using these prisoners’ identities to draw payments, but prosecutors had not yet found the culprits.
Iglesias is being held on $20,00 bail, pending another court appearance this coming Wednesday.
Related: Total Scope of California's Unemployment Check Fraud Was Around $20 Billion [SFist]
Image: REDWOOD CITY, CA - DECEMBER 9: Scott Peterson (R) sits in the courtroom at the San Mateo Superior Courthouse with his attorney Mark Geragos (L) during defense closing arguments in the penalty phase of Peterson's trial December 9, 2004 in Redwood City, California. Peterson was found guilty of first degree murder of his wife, Laci, and second degree murder of their unborn son and could receive the death penalty. (Photo by Fred Larson-Pool/Getty Images)