Buffalo woman pleads guilty on COVID fraud charge, defrauding NYS unemployment out of $48,833


FILE – In this Nov. 28, 2018, file photo, the Department of Justice seal is seen in Washington, D.C. An internet firm is ending the automated registration of website names that include words or phrases related to the COVID-19 pandemic, in an attempt to combat coronavirus-related fraud. Los Angeles-based Namecheap Inc. made the pledge after a federal judge in Texas on Sunday, March 22, 2020, ordered the takedown of a website the U.S. Department of Justice accused of stealing credit card information while offering fake coronavirus vaccine kits. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Buffalo woman pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal COVID fraud charge after collecting unemployment benefits she didn’t qualify for.

The United States Attorney’s office says between June 2020 and February 2021, Shaneesha White, 25, of Buffalo fraudulently applied for and collected unemployment insurance benefits supplemented by the federal CARES Act. White also used other people’s personal information to collect benefits under different names from the New York State Department of Labor.

The unemployment money was deposited in White’s accounts at KeyBank. The 25-year-old used ATM cards under her name and other people’s names to withdraw cash from the benefit accounts. USAO says White stole $48,833.15 in benefits. 

Shaneesha White pleaded guilty to wire fraud involving benefits connected to a presidentially declared national emergency.

She’ll be back in court for sentencing on January 14, 2022, and could face a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.

Patrick Ryan is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here.

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