Woman pleads guilty in Virginia unemployment fraud scheme

A Department of Justice logo is shown on a podium during a news conference about Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010, in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
A Department of Justice logo is shown on a podium during a news conference about Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A North Carolina woman accused of collecting $130,000 in a Virginia unemployment fraud scheme pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to charges of mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Paula Lane — who is also known as Paula Hipps — created fake companies and reported employees and wages to the Virginia Employment Commission.

Authorities say the identities of the employees were stolen or used without permission.

Lane, 47 formally of Corapeake, North Carolina, filed unemployment claims using the names of these people, as if they had been laid off from the companies.

In a one-year period, Lane reportedly collected $130,000 in payments from the VEC through EPPICards and direct deposits.

Authorities say a search of Lane’s home led the discovery of handwritten documents with information including dates of birth and social security numbers.

Authorities say there were 30 total victims of identity theft in this case.

Lane was indicted by a grand jury on June 9, and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 17, 2017.

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