Pa. caregiver arrested for stealing disabled clients’ information to get $90K in unemployment

Pennsylvania

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Thursday his office has filed charges against a Pa. caregiver for stealing personal information of several intellectually disabled clients to fraudulently apply for and receive almost $90,000 in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) funding.

The Grand Jury found that Nelson Fornah, of Darby, Delaware County, used stolen and false information of seven clients under his care across Delaware and Montgomery Counties to apply for and receive $89,418.82 in PUA benefits. The jury says he stole thousands of dollars of funds trying to assist people in Pa. who truly need it.

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“As a caregiver, this defendant was responsible for supporting adult individuals with disabilities in order to help them build trust and communicate with others. Instead, he used his position of trust to take advantage of his victims and steal their personal information for his own gain” AG Shapiro said. “We are working nonstop to track down people who undermine the public by breaking the law and committing fraud.”

Shapiro says the scheme started in July 2020, and Fornah used fake email addresses for the victims but used his own phone number. He said when Fornah would get the loaded U.S. Bank cards, the accounts were quickly depleted in various locations in eastern Pa.

In December 2020, Pa. Dept. of Labor and Industry requested more verification for the PUA accounts. The Grand Jury learned the department utilized ID.me, a third party to reduce fraud. They said the calls had the victims on the screen but that Fornah was the one talking for them off-camera. They said the victims looked confused and unaware.

Shapiro says Fornah was denied PUA benefits with his own information when it was found he was employed. When L&I rejected the application, Fornah lied to apply for the standard unemployment compensation and got over $14,000. He said Fornah attempted to use his victims’ information to get compensation in New Jersey.

The case was investigated by the Office of the Attorney General and U.S. Dept. of Labor Office of Inspector General, U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General and U.S. Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General.

The Grand Jury recommended Fornah be charged with Identity Theft, Dealing in Proceeds of Unlawful Activity, Unlawful Use of a Computer, Criminal Use of a Communications Facility, Access Device Fraud, Tampering with Public Records, Theft by Deception and Criminal Attempt to Commit Theft by Deception.

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