LOS ANGELES – Three women from South Florida have been sentenced to federal prison for participating in a scheme that defrauded the California Employment Development Department (EDD) by filing fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits in the names of California identity theft victims, the Justice Department announced today.
Bonia Bon and Bonize Bon, who are 32-year-old twin sisters residing in North Miami, and Eldia Dieujuste, 32, of Miami, each were sentenced Monday afternoon to one year and one day in federal prison. United States District Judge Christina A. Snyder also ordered the defendants to pay $104,570 in restitution to EDD.
The Bons and Dieujuste each pleaded guilty last year to mail fraud in connection with their scheme to defraud EDD. In a sentencing memorandum filed with the court, prosecutors noted that the Bons and Dieujuste stole “monies that were intended to be used to help persons who had lost their jobs through no fault of their own” by exploiting “the mechanisms put in place by EDD to help unemployed workers more easily apply for these benefits – for example, on-line applications and rapid processing of applications.”
From January 2018 through June 2019, the Bons and Dieujuste used the personal information of California residents to file 34 fraudulent claims seeking at least $494,190 in unemployment benefits. The Bons and Dieujuste provided their own home addresses in Florida as the mailing addresses for the benefits, which caused the debit cards that allowed access to $104,570 in unemployment benefits to be mailed to them. ATM surveillance photos captured images of the Bons and Dieujuste using the fraudulently obtained debit cards to withdraw the unemployment benefits in cash.
A fourth South Florida resident, Gregory Bon, 29, of Miami, brother of the Bon twins, faces conspiracy and mail fraud charges in this scheme. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go on trial on December 14 before Judge Snyder.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Department of Labor – Office of the Inspector General, EDD’s Investigations Division, Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the United States Secret Service investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney Ranee A. Katzenstein, Chief of the Major Frauds Section, prosecuted this case.