Roslindale Woman Indicted in Connection with Collecting More Than $50,000 in Unemployment Benefits While Working
Defendant Also Indicted for Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud
BOSTON – A Roslindale woman has been indicted in connection with collecting more than $50,000 in unemployment benefits while continuing to work and for motor vehicle insurance fraud, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
“We allege this defendant collected unemployment benefits while she continued to work and engaged in a fraudulent insurance scheme in violation of the law,” AG Coakley said. “The investigation and prosecution of these crimes are important to deter fraud and return these funds to the Commonwealth and protect the integrity of the insurance industry.”
The case is the result of investigations referred to the Attorney General’s Office by the Insurance Fraud Bureau of Massachusetts and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development’s Department of Unemployment Assistance (EOLWD\DUA).
Peggy Soto, 41, is charged with Unemployment Fraud (72 counts), Larceny Over $250, Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud and Attempted Larceny Over $250.
According to authorities, Soto applied for and received unemployment benefits from EOLWD\DUA from May 2009 to November 2010. During part of that time, Soto allegedly worked full time and failed to disclose her employment status to EOLWD\DUA.
For each of the 72 weeks that Soto collected unemployment benefits she allegedly notified the EOLWD\DUA that she was not working, but that she was able to work and was available for work. During the time of the alleged fraud, Soto earned more than $56,000 through her employment.
In October 2009 Soto allegedly engaged in a scheme to make a fraudulent insurance claim following a car accident. According to authorities Soto was allegedly involved in a car accident while operating a vehicle under a canceled insurance policy. Following the accident Soto allegedly reinstated her insurance policy and reported the incident to her insurance company, providing fraudulent information to indicate the time at which the accident occurred so that it would coincide with the reinstated policy. Following an investigation by her insurance provider, the claim was denied.
A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Soto on Dec. 1. Soto will be arraigned at a later date in Suffolk Superior Court and Norfolk Superior Court.
The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) provides temporary assistance to unemployed workers through the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program, which is funded by employer contributions. Private employers are required to pay quarterly contributions into the trust fund based on the number of workers they employ and how often their workers have accessed UI benefits, among other factors.
DUA’s Program Integrity Department focuses on the prevention, detection and the investigation of those who defraud or attempt to defraud the unemployment insurance program. Once fraud is detected, the Program Integrity Department works aggressively with the Attorney General’s office and other agencies to recover money owed to the UI Trust Fund.
In 2013, AG Coakley’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division (IUFD) recovered more than $1.4 million in restitution for the state. The IUFD works to protect consumers and the integrity of the insurance system by investigating and prosecuting those who commit fraud against all types of insurers, including the Commonwealth’s unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation systems.
To report unemployment fraud call the EOLWD/DUA’s Fraud Hotline @ 1-800-354-9927 or visit: www.mass.gov/lwd/ui-fraud anytime, 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Kristy Lavigne of AG Coakley’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division with assistance from investigator Steven Pfister of the Attorney General’s Office, investigators from the IFB, and Mark St. Onge from the DUA.