Unemployment scheme netted $340,000, prosecutors say

Not even being arrested on federal fraud charges and placed under strict house arrest could keep Amiee Arora from cooking up new schemes.

The Washington man pleaded guilty Tuesday to a pair of plots — including one that netted him and a partner $340,000 in Maryland unemployment benefits — and hatching another even after being indicted in connection with the first two.

In the original scheme, Arora, 32, exploited a loophole in Maryland's unemployment system that let people supply one address to the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, and another to a Citigroup unit that handed out prepaid debit cards loaded with the benefit payment, prosecutors said.

Between February, 2010 and February, 2011 Arora and his co-defendant Vivek Jain successfully targeted 40 people in the scheme, and had a list of about 1,100 more to try that Arora had compiled between 2004 and 2009, according to court filings.

Jain, 27, of Gaithersburg, pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme last October and is awaiting sentencing.

Jain was charged in connection with the unemployment ruse in April, 2011, but Arora rolled out a new fraud plan the next month, which wound up costing a merchant $600,000 in bank fees, prosecutors said.

Arora was then arrested in August 2011, and released to await trial on condition he not use a computer or cell phone and stay with his parents, court records show. But prosecutors said he had a phone stealthily delivered to the house and worked up a fresh scheme to defraud DirecTV, marketing subscriptions by phone — which is banned by federal regulations — then offering to split the commissions with the company's dealers.

Arora was arrested again in December, 2011, before the plot could be put fully in to operation. He faces a likely nine years in prison when he is sentenced next January.


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