Homeless Services workers among 18 NYC employees arrested in COVID benefit fraud bust

WABC logo
Thursday, March 7, 2024
Several NYC employees arrested in COVID benefit fraud bust
Kristin Thorne has more.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- At least 18 New York City employees were arrested on Thursday for allegedly stealing identities to get financial benefits during the COVID pandemic.

The suspects are accused of impersonating homeless people at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and using their names to illegally get their pandemic benefits.

Some of those homeless people died during the pandemic.

The suspects include five Department of Homeless services workers, as well as employees of the NYPD, MTA, USPS and NYCHA.

Prosecutors believe they are responsible for obtaining nearly $1.2 million in fraudulent benefits between April 2020 and October 2021.

Officials say approximately 170 people had their identities stolen.

It is alleged that the five DHS employees got shelter resident information from paper and digital files and shared them with the group.

"Stealing the identities of New Yorkers, many of them homeless, and defrauding a critical social safety program during one of the most challenging times in our city's history is downright shameful and we allege criminal," said District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Prosecutors say they were looking into a DHS employee who may have been manufacturing ghost guns when investigators discovered the other alleged fraud.

All of the defendants pleaded not guilty on Thursday and the judge set bail for almost every suspect.

ALSO READ | Man accused of squatting in Queens home faces judge, promises 'revelation' in case

7 On Your Side Investigative reporter Dan Krauth has the story.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More New York City news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.