Three California residents charged with conspiracy to defraud unemployment insurance program | USAO-NDCA
SAN FRANCISCO – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California has filed a criminal complaint against Ratha Yin, Amanda Yin and Steven Mavromatis accusing the defendants of conspiracy to commit mail and electronic fraud for their respective roles in a scheme to defraud the state of California by filing unemployment claims on behalf of others, said Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds and Special Agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Craig D. Fair.
According to the criminal indictment, Ratha Yin, 34, was being held at Centinela State Prison in Imperial County on October 16, 2020, when he and his cellmate were found in possession of two cell phones and two SD cards. The contraband electronics contained a wealth of communications information about Ratha Yin and her co-defendants — his wife, Amanda Yin, 31, of Indio, Calif., And Stephen Mavromatis, 26, of San Leandro, Calif. as well as with the California Employment Development Department (EDD) and Bank of America. Subsequent investigation revealed evidence that Ratha Yin used at least one of the cell phones to communicate from prison with Mavromatis to file fraudulent unemployment insurance claims made available through EDD under the Law of 2020 on aid, relief and economic security against coronaviruses (“CARES Act”). Amanda Yin would have been aware of the fraud, would have helped to collect the proceeds and would have disposed of a portion of the ill-gotten gains.
The complaint alleges that the defendants accessed the dark web to obtain personally-identifying information for hundreds of people and then set up email accounts for many of the victims to use as part of the scheme. Ratha Yin and Mavromatis then used the personal information and emails to file fraudulent unemployment claims. The complaint explains that when EDD pays UI benefits under the UI program, it enters into a contract with Bank of America that sends the recipient a preloaded Bank of America debit card with a balance cash defined. Ratha Yin and Mavromatis allegedly used this system by claiming benefits and asking EDD to send prepaid debit cards to a post office box controlled by Mavromatis. The complaint estimates that an analysis found that out of 91 fraudulent claims filed by Ratha Yin and Mavromatis, at least $ 1.9 million in cash withdrawals were made from fraudulently obtained debit cards. Further, the lawsuit alleges that Ratha Yin and other co-conspirators filed claims and withdrawn at least an additional $ 132,000 from accounts developed using similar methods.
The complaint further alleges that Amanda Yin raised funds from Mavramatis, helped decide where and how to deposit the funds, and deposited some of the illegally obtained funds into accounts in her own name and into a joint account with Ratha. Yin. In addition, Amanda Yin is said to have used the proceeds of the program to purchase personal items; for example, according to the complaint, Amanda Yin used a straw buyer to secure a $ 71,000 Audi sport utility vehicle, and in May 2021 she allegedly used the proceeds for a down payment on a house in Indio, California.
In summary, the complaint charges the three defendants with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in violation of 18 USC §§ 1341, 1343 and 1349. A criminal complaint simply alleges that crimes were committed, and the defendants are presumed innocent until guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If found guilty, the accused each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, 3 years of supervised release after incarceration and a fine of $ 250,000. However, any sentence following a conviction would be imposed by the court after reviewing the United States Sentencing Guidelines and Federal Sentencing Law, 18 USC § 3553.
Amanda Yin and Mavromatis were arrested on September 21, 2021. Amanda Yin first appeared in federal court on September 21, 2021, before a district judge in the Central District of California. She will appear in the Northern District of California on September 28, 2021. Mavromatis made his first appearance before a magistrate in the Northern District of California on September 22, 2021. He will then appear on September 24, 2021, before a United States magistrate. Judge Sallie Kim.
The case is being pursued by the Special Prosecutions Section of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California. This case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the US Department of Labor-Office of the Inspector General, EDD California, Area Special Services Unit California Bay Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Investigative Service Unit of Centinela State Prison.