A former Department of Economic Opportunity employee and her husband were arrested Thursday and charged with scamming the state out of nearly $190,000 in unemployment compensation funds, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Sharon Echeverri, 26, and Alberto Echeverri, 27, of Orlando were charged with organized scheme to defraud and criminal use of personal identification, an FDLE news release said.
Both are first-degree felonies, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, because the fraud was greater than $50,000.
The couple reportedly reactivated people’s unused unemployment accounts and changed the personal identification numbers (PINs) and bank account information so they would receive the money.
They “filed hundreds of fraudulent claims for re-employment assistance and forwarded the money to 22 bank accounts under their control,” the FDLE said.
The investigation began this past February after the activity was flagged by the Department of Economic Opportunity’s Fraud Initiative Rules Rating Engine Unit, or FIRRE, the release said.
Losses to the state were $189,175.
The two were booked into Orange County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail each. Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute the case.
“The investigation is ongoing and there could be additional arrests,” the release said.