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INDIANAPOLIS — Brianna Yerkey of Struthers, Ohio was sentenced to six months in federal prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud.


Source: Cochran Firm Cleveland / Cochran Firm Cleveland

According to court documents the 21-year-old woman defrauded the federal government and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (IDWD) between the months of February 2021 and June 2021.

A press release from the United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Indiana, Yerkey exploited the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance fund using Facebook and Snapchat. She would use these social media platforms to advertise to others that she would file Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) applications on their behalf in exchange for a fee ranging between $500 and $1,300.

Yerkey would also ask for the log in information that clients used when setting up an account with the IDWD. She would provide fraudulent information regarding the applicant’s address, employment, unemployment, and if the applicant resided in the state of Indiana.

The press release states that to avoid fraud detection Yerkey would use university emails and addresses to give the impression the applicants were college students. This was an attempt to lessen the chance people suspect fraud for providing an out-of-state driver’s license when asked for proof of identity.

In total Yerkey attempted to claim up to $287,311 in unemployment benefits. Her six month prison sentence will be followed by one year of supervised release and paying back $125,271 in restitution.