Crips gang members and inmates busted for COVID-19-related unemployment insurance fraud scheme

By Gangsters Inc. Editors

People usually assume street gangs are only involved in the simpler crimes. Drug dealing, theft, some prostitution. But as they remain on the scene, these gangs evolve and their crimes become more sophisticated. Case in point: Imprisoned members of street gangs submitting fraudulent unemployment insurance claims.

Last week, on October 3, 38-year-old Sholanda Thomas, an alleged Hoover Crips gang member and an inmate at the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) in Chowchilla, was sentenced to 5 years and 5 months in prison for conspiring to submit fraudulent unemployment insurance claims to the California Employment Development Department (EDD) in the names of other CCWF inmates.

According to court documents, Thomas sent her own and other inmates’ personally identifiable information to Christina Smith, a parolee and also a former Hoover Crips gang member, to submit the unemployment insurance claims in their names.

Plastic surgery and expenses

The underlying applications falsely represented that the inmates had been working as carpet cleaners, hair stylists, mechanics, and other jobs. This was impossible because they were incarcerated and ineligible for benefits.

The intended loss to the EDD and the United States was over $250,000 and the actual loss was more than $200,000. The proceeds were spent on various personal expenses, including plastic surgery for Smith.

Smith was sentenced in September 2021 to 5 years in prison for her role in the conspiracy.

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