15 Indicted in Alleged Massive Unemployment Insurance Fraud of $8.7 Million
A suburban Chicago woman who owned a South Side tax preparation business allegedly schemed to falsely claim more than $1 million in federal tax refunds and, together with 14 co-defendants, allegedly engaged in a related scheme using other individuals’ identities, including some tax service clients and some stolen, to fraudulently obtain more than $8.7 million from state unemployment insurance agencies in Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota. The defendants allegedly registered approximately 80 fictitious employers with the states’ unemployment insurance agencies and used the sham employers to fraudulently collect unemployment insurance benefits. The Illinois Department of Employment Security was allegedly defrauded of at least $5.95 million, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development was allegedly cheated of at least $2.4 million, and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development lost at least $342,000 as a result of the alleged fraud scheme.
The lead defendant, Jacqueline Kennedy, owned and managed ATAP Financial Enterprises Inc., ATAP Tax & Business Solutions Inc., and ATAP Tax Services Inc., (collectively, ATAP), all tax preparation businesses located at one time at 1757 West 95th St. in Chicago. Kennedy, 39, of Country Club Hills, was charged with 14 counts of mail and wire fraud, six counts of filing false claims for tax refunds, and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Kennedy and 14 co-defendants were indicted together on various tax, fraud, and identity theft charges in a 60-count indictment returned yesterday by a federal grand jury, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, announced today. All 15 defendants will be ordered to appear for arraignment at a later date in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
“This indictment highlights the determination of the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General to investigate fraud against the unemployment insurance program. The defendants allegedly schemed to illegally obtain approximately $8.7 million in unemployment benefits. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and our colleagues in the Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota state workforce agencies to aggressively investigate allegations of fraudulent activities to obtain unemployment insurance benefits,” said James Vanderberg, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.