Rhode Island man charged with pandemic unemployment fraud

November 5, 2021 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — A Rhode Island man authorities say used the stolen identities of others to obtain more than $450,000 in COVID-19-related unemployment assistance has been arrested, federal prosecutors said.

Dquintz Alexander, 34, of Cranston, was arrested Thursday in Michigan on multiple counts of wire fraud as well as conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston.

He was released following an initial court appearance in Michigan and will appear in federal court in Boston at a later date. No defense attorney was listed in online court records.

According to prosecutors, Alexander and an accomplice between April and June 2020 made 85 fraudulent claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance unlawfully using the personal information of at least five other people, and by hiding their own identities through a series of VPN services, overseas email accounts and Voice over Internet Protocol phone numbers.

The victims were from Arizona, Massachusetts, Ohio, Michigan and Kansas, authorities said.

Alexander and his accomplice, Norman Higgs, shared the $450,000 and used it to pay personal credit card debt, buy digital currency and open online retail brokerage accounts, authorities said.

Higgs pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy in September and faces sentencing in December.