SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro Tuesday announced the sentencing of Eric Amoako-Attah, 33, of Schenectady who is said to have stolen the identities of at least four people to obtain more than $50,000 in unemployment insurance payments, which he then spent on a new apartment, clothing and appliances, and a BMW.
Amoako-Attah was sentenced in Schenectady County Court before Hon. Matthew Sypniewski to three-and-a-half to seven years in prison after previously pleading guilty to Grand Larceny in the 3rd Degree. Amoako-Attah was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $52,552.50, including the forfeiture of $18,660 according to Inspector General Letizia.
Officials say an investigation by the Office of the Welfare Fraud Inspector General (OWIG) found that between July and October 2020, Amoako-Attah fraudulently filed online claims for unemployment benefits – including federal benefits related to New York State Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – by using the names and personal I.D. information, including social security numbers, of four separate people. This resulted in the following net benefits paid in their names to Amoako-Attah:
The funds, totaling $52,552.50, were deposited to EBT cards which Amoako-Attah then used for personal expenses, according to officials.
OWIG investigators reportedly reviewed video footage that showed Amoako-Attah at the locations identified in the EBT cards’ transaction history records, including Stewart’s, Walmart, Price Chopper, Michael Kohrs, and Laced Up Albany.
Officials say Amoako-Attah was on parole since March 11, 2020. His parole officer informed OWIG that he was suspicious as Amoako-Attah had recently possessed sufficient cash to make a deposit on a new apartment. During a routine home visit to the residence, the parole officer reportedly saw several items that were purchased using the stolen funds, including Air Jordan sneakers, several new winter jackets, a large television, new bedding, new kitchen appliances, and a purse. Additionally, officials say Amoako-Attah purchased a green 2003 BMW Model 325 after the EBT cards were issued.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way the world operates, criminals like this individual have discovered elaborate schemes to exploit the social safety nets that so many innocent individuals rely on to survive,” said Inspector General Tagliafierro. “As this case demonstrates, our office is committed to ensuring the integrity of these important social programs and holding those who steal from the public accountable for their actions.”