Three Men Charged For COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Benefits Fraud

Three men made their initial appearances in federal court today for their alleged roles in a conspiracy to apply for and use Nevada and California unemployment insurance benefits debit cards — approved for over $900,000 — that were issued in other peoples’ names.

Luigi J. Montes (41), of Sugarland, Texas, Alexander Hoyos Rivera (24), of Marion, Ohio, and Peter Alexander Stincer (33), of Sylmar, California, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft.

According to allegations contained in the complaint, from about March 1, 2020 to January 6, 2021, Montes, Rivera, and Stincer conspired with others — including Alan Ray, who was previously charged and pleaded guilty in October 2021 to his role in the conspiracy — to defraud the Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation (DETR) and the California Employment Development Department (EDD). As part of the scheme, the defendants fraudulently applied for unemployment insurance benefits with DETR and EDD, using stolen personal identifying information. The debit cards were sent to mailing addresses to which the defendants had access. After receiving the unemployment insurance debit cards, Montes, Rivera, and Stincer withdrew the funds at various ATMS located in several states, including Nevada, California, and Texas. In total, the fraud scheme involved at least $934,129 in benefits approved by the state workforce agencies, and implicated $1,149,250 in actual and potential benefits.

Montes, Rivera, and Stincer each appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach. If convicted, each defendant faces a statutory maximum penalty of 26 years in prison.