by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
One of the benefits to society from imprisoning criminals is that, while they’re imprisoned, they cease committing crimes. However, when it comes to the government’s failure to take good care of taxpayer money, two men’s stints in California’s prisons gave them the time to engage in a massive fraud netting them $5 million in both state and federal unemployment funds. Think about that: our governments are so inefficient that they hand out COVID unemployment funds to nonexistent people created by prisoners.
The story has been out for a few days, but I really didn’t want to ignore it. According to the AP, Daryol Richmond is imprisoned in Kern Valley State Prison serving an almost 25-year prison sentence as a repeat offender in robbery and attempted robbery. Telvin Breaux is in the California Correction Institution, serving a 15-year sentence for, among other things, robbery with a firearm.
These two men, despite being locked away, ran a crime ring filing false claims that they and others on the outside had been working at low-level, cash-based jobs until COVID left them unemployed. They created email accounts for these fake people — more than 400 of them — and then used street addresses across Southern California so the government could mail them debit cards.
This scam highlights everything wrong with massive government handout programs. Government bureaucrats have no idea to whom they’re sending money and no incentive to find out. Theoretically, in this hyper-computerized age, the bureaucrats could have matched names to addresses but they didn’t. (Computer data are used to harass conservatives, not to prevent fraud.) And of course, debit cards are fungible. A check must be deposited or cashed somewhere specific, but debit cards can be used anywhere in a nicely untraceable way.